“'There's cold chicken inside it,' replied the Rat briefly; 'coldtonguecoldhamcoldbeefpickledgherkinssaladfrench

'O stop, stop,' cried the Mole in ecstacies: 'This is too much!'”
-- from
The Wind in the Willows

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Change of Heart • YA fiction

Change of Heart
Available now WestSide Books  Ages 13 and up
Sometimes you take some basic things for granted, like the love of your parents, or hanging with your friends, or the beating of your heart.
Story:  Shortly after her sixteenth birthday, popular varsity soccer star Emmi gets the worst possible news -- she's had myocarditis that's destroyed her heart, putting her into congestive heart failure.  Now she can barely walk across a room without stopping to rest.  Without a heart transplant, she'll die in a matter of months.  It's only her growing friendship with Abe, the funny, smart teen she meets in the cardiac clinic, that cheers her up.  
But difficult questions race through her mind while she waits:  Will she get a heart in time?  Will she even survive the surgery?  What is her body rejects the heart?  When tragedy strikes close to home, Emmi must rely even more on her inner strength in order to carry on.

Story behind the story: First a books-bring-people-together story:  Author Shari Maurer contacted me to talk about her book and, after we talked shop a bit and she took a peek at my website, asked if I was the Deborah Sloan with a sister named Pam.  Turns out, Shari and I grew up in a small suburb of NYC, in a town called New City, NY (don't you love that name? Shari's now living there with her family).  Small world!

So back to the book story:  I asked Shari where this story came from and she responded:  "A few years ago I was watching a television program on heart transplants. My husband, a cardiologist, and one of his patients were featured on the show. But I also noticed a young girl who was waiting for a heart. She was wheeled into the operating room, her face a mixture of fear, excitement and worry—not knowing if this was a new beginning or if she would die.

This girl haunted me. I started to wonder what it would be like if she was a teen. And an athlete. I couldn’t stop thinking about it and thus, Emmi and Change of Heart were born. Emmi’s great life is interrupted when she gets sick and finds she needs a new heart. How do you live waiting for the phone call that will save your life and still try to keep up with your friendships, schoolwork and life in high school?  And how do you hope for someone to die, so you can live?

Readers have come away from Change of Heart feeling a renewed sense of gratitude—for their health, their friends and their lives. I didn’t intend that when I wrote it, but I love that this is what people are taking from it."

 “Tenderly told, this story is aptly written for teens. It’s poignant, informative and bathed in all kinds of emotions. The author succinctly describes the transplant process with detailed medical accuracy and compassion, while clinging to the tyranny of just being sixteen. Captivating, touching tale!”
Sacramento Book Review
“Shari Maurer does a brilliant job of taking the reader through this emotional journey with Emmi, her friends, and family.  I found myself laughing one minute and on the brink of tears the next.  The story felt well researched and I could imagine the pain and frustration the characters dealt with daily.  I also thought the story sent a message to readers about life.  My interpretation left me with a reminder of how precious each day of our lives is and not to take anything, especially your health for granted.”
- Ellz Readz blog

"Shari Maurer handles very tricky subject matter with sensitivity and grace."
- Amy Goldman Koss, author of Side Effects, an ALA BEst Books for Young Adults and a Kirkus Best Books of the Year

"An emotional roller coaster, exploring all the different ways a heart can be broken -- and all the different ways it can be repaired.  In Change of Heart, Shari Maurer takes the reader through all the ups and downs of a star athlete coming to terms with love, loss, and the starting realization that event at sixteen, no one's truly immortal."
- Barbara Caridad Ferrer, author of It's Not About the Accent, a YALSA Popular Paperback for Young Adults

Did you know that one organ donor can save up to eight lives?  One eye and tissue donor can save or improve up to 50 lives?  It doesn't matter how old you are, what you do, or the color of your skin.  To find out more about giving the gift of life, see DonateLife.net or DonateLifeNY.org.
FYI:  All the review copies for this title have been sent.  Please check back and see the "comments" link to read what your colleagues have to say...


ckrau2002 said...

"A Change of Heart" certainly puts the heart through the wringer. It deals with many emotions that are close to the heart. I read it all in one day. Maurer does a good job with the dreams and desires of a teenager. I was not pleased with the use of swear words and the result of her boyfriend and best friend cheating. It seems as if the forgiveness Emmi grants is without much soul searching or discussion of trust. I was hoping for more for young adults than discussion of cute butts. Abe is a good character, but their relationship could be explored and deepend. The discussion of organ donation and the emotions of those waiting on the list is well done. The cover art is also well done. I would give it 2 of 5 stars.

Pat said...

"A Change of Heart" is definitely for the high school crowd. I would not recommend that mature middle schoolers read it although it would be at their interest level. The language is mild compared to what today's teens actually say. (As a parent, I wouldn't be as understanding as Emmi's parents.) As with the previous reviewer, I would like the author to have explored Emmi's relationship with Abe especially the psychological and emotional ties. As for Emmi's forgiveness of her two friends, I don't know many people (teens or adults) who could forgive so easily.

The characters are believable. The medical side of the story is accurate.

Overall, it is a good read for teens. I would give it 3 out of 5 picnic baskets.

dmuldawer said...

When I first read the description of Change of Heart, it reminded me of the Lurlene McDaniels books. And after finishing the book, I decided that my first impression was right. The plot is classic: a popular, athletic girl has her life turned upside-down with a medical crisis.

What will appeal to modern teens is the use of things like texting and Facebook and cell phones.

However, I would've liked to see more depth in the novel. For example, have the doctors really discuss how the virus destroyed her heart and what she might expect from a transplant.

And why even bring Abe into the story? He's a good role model and a potential love interest but the relationship never goes anywhere. Instead, even though she knows that her boyfriend is a player, she's drawn back to him.

Also, I find it hard to believe that she just forgives her boyfriend and best friend for cheating on her. That happened to me and also to another one of my friends in college and neither of us have anything to do with the parties involved today.

I still think this book will appeal to teenage girls but it had the potential to offer so much more than it did.

Picnic Basket Rating: 3

Julia Pitau said...

As soon as this book arrived on my desk, a student came in and begged to take it home. The next thing I heard from her was an e-mail stating this was the best book she has EVER read in her life and that she related to it so well. She has other family members who are waiting to read it, so it might be awhile before I am able to sink my teeth into it.

My student gives it a 5+++

Denair Charter Academy
Denair, CA

Kristin said...

I was intrigued to read about the premise of A Change of Heart. A college roommate of mine had a lung transplant and unfortunately passed away while waiting for a second transplant. I've never heard of a book that has addressed transplants. I had a mixed reaction to the novel. There were many aspects I liked such as the frustration and boredom that can come with being on the waiting list. I was also glad Emmi didn't get the first heart. This happened to my friend so I know it's a realistic event. One aspect I didn't embrace as the character of Abe. I understood how they could become good friends but I didn't feel the romantic relationship had really been developed. The betrayal by her boyfriend and best friend seemed to come out of nowhere. I'm not sure how she could so easily forgive both of them and just go back to the way things had been before.

Overall, I'd give this book 3 picnic baskets out of 5.

Anonymous said...

"A Change of Heart" is a great book for those reluctant readers who do not like long chapters, but love a book that they can get into. Emmi was a character that they could relate to, and feel for what she goes through. The girls love to read a story that pull at your emotions. I know that my students will love this book.
I give it a 4 in my picnic basket.

loonyhiker said...

I would give this book 5 out of 5. I thought it was a great book with realistic relationships and feelings. I think it would be great novel to use in a high school class and I think both boys and girls would find this interesting. This novel is about a high school girl needing a heart transplant and the relationship struggles she has during this time. I thought it dealt with the concept of organ donors and transplants very tastefully. It also delves into how a transplant would affect relationships with others including parents, siblings, best friends, boyfriends and girlfriends, and even doctors. Both boys and girls would be able to share their feelings about the relationship. It also touches on the support needed by the person who is going through a situation like this and would open up the possibilities for our young people to realize that there may be someone in their life that may need this support. I would highly recommend this for the school library as well as a classroom study.

Pat Hensley
Greenville, SC

Juli said...

"A Change of Heart" is quick easy read for the upper middle school and high school reader. The chapters are short and succinct. However, given the subject matter I was expecting more. Emmi's story is not fully developed and neither is her relationship with Abe. Also, the fact that she so easily forgives her cheating boyfriend and best friend is not necesarrily the message I think our young adults should have without more soul searching. I like the fact that there is accurate information about tranplants and this is perhaps an are where more YA material is needed. This book will have reader appeal, but I agree with a previous post that it could have offered so much more.

3 out of 5

Kara said...

A wonderful subject for a book.
After reading the prologue, I was transported back to the day of high school when major decisions only took a minute of my time. I love how the author let it take time for Emmi to realize she could die. That is so true for adolescents; they are unstoppable. I was glad when the boyfriend cheated because up until that point, things had gone smoothly (with the exception of the failing heart of course). I think that her learning to stick out relationships and not run was the central theme of the book. The boyfriend/best friend cheating wss the ultimate test of that. The interest for this book is already building in our school. I would highly recommend this book.

janette said...

I enjoyed this book. I read a lot of Young Adult fiction and found this one refreshing. Strange to call a book about heart transplants refreshing, sure, but so many books classified as young adult are brimming with drugs, sex, and violence. It's not that I'm opposed to those having their place in fiction, it's simply that they're everywhere.
I also enjoyed this book because of the research the author did on transplants, and the after care of patients. I could identify with things happening in this book after my dad had a heart attack late last year and watching his recovery...a couple images from the book that really struck a visual with me were pressing the pillow against your chest to help with the pain, and when Emmi was talking about getting up and walking so soon and how she never thought sitting in a chair would be her accomplishment for the day.
I thought the relationships in the book were right on for a high school romance. Definitely believable.
I think we'll be seeing this one go off our shelves frequently.
I gave this book a 4/5 picnic basket rating.
Thank You.

EShay said...

"A Change of Heart" dealt with the topic of transplantation in a respectful and tasteful manner. I am not aware of other novels that deal with this issue; I am glad this novel exists for that reason.
I can also see this book being very popular with teenage girls. There are various types of drama - involving health, friends, boyfriends, parents, etc that many girls would find appealing.
However, I cannot see a class reading this book. I am sure it would have great appeal due to the excess of drama, but it was all fairly stereotypical, I thought. Emmi was rather whiny and some events later on seemed to be rather random and just thrown in to ramp up the drama.
I give it a 3 out of 5.

Linda said...

I give it a 4 out of 5. The storyline is timely, students will relate to the topic, and it opens the discussion to important issues, such as organ donations.

Meg McCormick said...

Change of Heart
by Shari Maurer

This book has a two parts. The first part is about Emmi's life a week or two before she finds out that she has heart failure. The first part also talks about her waiting to get a new heart. Emmi goes through all this pain waiting. But she finds new friends on the way of waiting. Then finally she goes to get a new heart but will it be the right one that she needs?
The second part is about her life with a new heart. But she does have a hard time trusting her friend and her boyfriend. Her new friend loves Emmi. The day she tells him is the day he might die. She has all these questions running in her mind. Who knows what might happen? Will she reject her new heart? Does her new best friend die or stays alive?
It’s my favorite book! I hope that others will enjoy this book as much as I did.

Review written by Gabi, a middle school student in Hawaii.

Lindsay Horne said...

This book was good, but not great. Like a previous poster, I was reminded of the many cliche "love then a medical crisis" books I have read.

I had a hard time with how easily Emmi forgave her boyfriend and best friend. The book made it seem like she just switched her emotions off and forgave - not very realistic.

That being said, this is appropriate for high-schoolers. While the language is an issue, the content seems more appropriate for older students. I would not put this on my middle school bookshelf.

I did like the topics that were addressed - the organ donation issue was interesting. The cover is beautiful.

Overall, a 2/5...

janew said...

A beach-book for adolescents! The drama and angst that comes with high school and friendships developed and lost, will keep many readers engaged enough to reach the real gem within the book which, in my opinion, is Abe.
Abe is quirky, filled with secrets, and far less stereotypical than the others.It is Emmi's relationship with Abe that kept me reading and holds promise for rich and divergent discussions about life, death, and who we REALLY are and want to become.The Author's Note is an important one for sure.

Menna said...

As a 5th grade teacher, I would not recommend this to any reader below the 8th grade. This book explored a variety of human emotions and tough situations, but was dialogue heavy. I never felt as though the characters were fully developed. All of a sudden, she tells us she hates her mom, but we never find out why. The concept was deep, but the people living the plot felt shallow. I was anxious to find out what would happen next, so there is some page-turning qualities to parts of the books. Overall, I give it a 2 out of 5.

Mrs. Loch said...

I loved this book! It rang very true to life, and I loved how the author portrayed Emmi as a realistic character, not some saintly kid waiting patiently for her transplant. I do agree that the relationship with Abe could have been fleshed out more. 4 out of 5 picnic baskets for me

Anonymous said...

I love "Change of Heart"! The author captured how a teen girl would react in learning she had a heart condition and needing a heart transplant.

Several reviewers had opinions about how easy it was for Emmi to forgive her boyfriend and best friend. Emmi did step back from the situation to give thought to what happened. She knew that by forgiving released her from the heartache, but her forgiveness did not excuse the behavior of the guilty party.

I give this book 5/5!