Review Blog

Jan 19 2012

Cold hands, warm heart by Jill Wolfson

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Walker, 2012. ISBN 9781406325416.
(Age: 12+) Dani is a 15 year old who has had more doctor's appointments and hospital visits than she cares to remember. She was born with her heart on the wrong side of her body and is waiting for an organ donor. 14 year old Amanda is a top gymnast in perfect health who suffers an accident at a meet. Their lives are about to become entwined.
This is a moving story about the heartbreak and joy of giving and receiving organ transplants. It opens with the story of Amanda, told from the viewpoint of her brother Tyler, who tells the reader about the heartbreak that a family goes through when making a decision about whether or not to allow a loved one's organ to be donated. It also tells the story of Dani, who is waiting for a heart transplant and how the donation of a heart entirely changes her and her mother's lives. Secondary characters like Milo, with whom Dani begins a tentative relationship while in hospital and the irrepressible little girl Wendy who is also waiting for a transplant, flesh out the story and the impact of organ donations.
I read this story quickly as it kept my attention the whole time. However there were moments when I felt that Wolfson was really writing it to illustrate the importance of becoming an organ donor and that her main aim wasn't to tell Tyler and Dani's story, but rather to convince the reader to do the right thing. (I'm sure that after teens have read this story they will be determined to become organ donors). However the information about the process of organ transplants, the impact that they can have on both the donor's family and the recipient's family, was fascinating and Milo's insights into death were thought provoking. It was easy to identify with Tyler's family and their reluctance to meet the people that the organs were donated to, while at the same time experiencing the joy and hope that filled the people who received the donations.
Often heart wrenching, this story that has tackled a difficult subject with clarity and empathy, will remain with me.
Pat Pledger

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