A delicately crafted story by Hatvany (Heart Like Mine, 2013, etc.) about one mother who turns her loss into another mother’s heartfelt gain, thanks to the miracle of organ transplantation.
Hannah Scott prays for a miracle when her 12-year-old daughter, Emily, is struck by a car and severely injured, but it’s not to be. Signing the permission forms for the doctors to harvest her daughter’s organs, Hannah’s told a person in the area with the same rare blood type as her daughter’s is in dire need of a liver. Although privacy laws prevent her from knowing the recipient, the liver goes to desperately ill 15-year-old Maddie Bell. Her mother, Olivia, has remained by her side throughout the years of long hospital stays, but her father, wealthy workaholic James, rarely visits, despite his claims to love her. James is a product of his own abusive childhood, a controller who verbally and physically lashes out at Olivia behind closed doors. A year after the surgery, Hannah, Olivia and Maddie meet by chance, and Hannah realizes Maddie may be the recipient of her daughter’s liver. She cultivates a friendship with both mother and daughter but at first hesitates to mention their possible connection. All three are fragile and cope with their situations in their own ways: Hannah, by moving from her old home, storing Emily’s belongings and refusing to discuss her death; Olivia, by trying to appease James and plotting to take Maddie and leave, but fear and false hope keep her from completing her plan; and Maddie, by cloaking her insecurity through a fake identity she creates on Facebook and becoming involved online with someone older. Hatvany compels readers to examine a diverse number of issues—death, organ donation, single parenthood, abuse, self-respect—and handles each topic with sensitivity and compassion. Although the plot and the book’s end are predictable, the author takes readers on a worthwhile journey.
Readers might want to keep a box of tissues nearby.