Release date 2/11/2014
When high school oddball and introvert Jessica Chai is killed in a car accident, her parents decide that Jessica would have wanted her organs donated to those who so desperately need these gifts of life. But Jessica is angry about dying and being dismembered. Taking the idea of cell memory to the next level, not only do the recipients get pieces of Jessica, but gets pieces of their memories and lives moving forward—she knows what they know and keeps tabs on their growth, recovery, and development. This begins her journey to learn her purpose as she begins to grasp that her ties to these teenagers goes beyond random weirdness. It's through their lives that Jessica learns about herself, as she watches the lives she literally touched continue to interlock.
Beth says 4 Stars...
I was super excited when I read the summary for this book. I'm really passionate about organ donation, to the point where I was the president of an organ donation awareness club in high school (SODA - we had a pretty solid acronym). However, I hated the first part of the book. So much so that I would have put it down if I didn't have to review it. Jess comes off annoying and self-centered, while only giving us a brief sense of her life. The introduction of several characters feels forced any quite a few scenes don't seem relevant to anything. I'm so glad that I pushed through because after the car crash things really get going and it becomes a wonderful book. The plot isn't action based and focuses instead on the characters. Their struggles with the reality of chronic illness and the aftermath of the transplants were conveyed beautifully.
As I mentioned, the characters are the most important piece of this novel. We get to see them from Jess's close, but just removed enough perspective. Through her we get to know the others from both her and their thoughts and I loved it. The ways the character's lives intersect were fun and touching. I actually had to reread the beginning of the book when I finished because I realized I'd missed a few connections. It was great to read about such different people because they all have different journeys to go on. What Kizer did so skillfully was let each character have their own story and growth. None of the arcs felt forced. I don't want to give away too much, but suffice it to say that I wanted to alternately hug and shake certain individuals.
A final warning: don't read the end of this book in public unless you're okay with crying in front of strangers. I think the summary for the book is a bit misleading. This isn't a story full of anger (although there is a bit of it); it's filled with pain and hope. It shows how incredibly important organ donation is and how, despite everything, good can come from heartache.
ebook from publisher