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Heart to Heart    by Lurlene McDaniel order for
Heart to Heart
by Lurlene McDaniel
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2010 (2010)
Hardcover, e-Book
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Kassey Messechek and Elowyn Eden have been - and expect to be - best friends forever. They vacation together and when Elowyn's doting parents give her a car for her sixteenth birthday, she immediately hands Kassey a key. But life intervenes. First Elowyn finds a boyfriend in ninth grade, Wyatt Nolan, and their tempestuous relationship (fueled by Elowyn's jealousy) often forces Kassey into the role of go-between. Then comes the accident that leaves Kassey's best friend a vegetable.

Elowyn had signed that she was willing to be a transplant donor. So when her parents decide it's time to let her go, another young woman, Arabeth (who is in desperate need of a transplant), inherits Elowyn's heart. The author introduces readers to Arabeth's loving family and reveals that her soldier father died overseas. The transplant succeeds. Over time, Elowyn's parents and Arabeth's family meet. Arabeth also gets to know Wyatt and Nolan. Strangely, since the transplant, Arabeth takes on many of Elowyn's likes and dislikes, her own personality changing in a phenomenon called cellular memory.

Lurlene McDaniel's well told story, Heart to Heart, makes clear how everyone concerned is affected - first by the tragedy, and later by Arabeth's appearing at times very like Elowyn. A subplot also deals with Kassey's reactions to her long lost father's desire to reconnect - and how Arabeth helps her to come to terms with her feelings about it. This is a compelling read, filled with subtle life lessons that in no way impede the flow of the story.

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