Seventeen-year-old Australian Marlowe Jensen—just returning to high school after a successful heart transplant—obsesses about her anonymous donor while also navigating relationships with friends, family members, and her first love.
Marlowe, who is of Danish descent, narrates the tale in present tense. Among her many anxieties: “There is no ‘me’ anymore. They’re seeing a girl with a borrowed heart.” Although this and other insecure musings pepper the text, it is also filled with Marlowe’s witty comments. Her zany, controlling mother and adoring younger brother provide additional humor: Mum, owner of the “vegan-organic-wellness store called Blissfully Aware,” participates in showy, anti-establishment protests, and 10-year-old Pip—who seems younger—uses every possible occasion to wear outrageous, painstakingly created costumes. High school bully Eddie Oro and his bubble-headed followers are stock characters, but Marlowe’s budding friendships with cool, gay Zan Cheung and maybe-the-sister-of-Marlowe’s-heart-donor Carmen Castillejo ring true. So does the slow move from adversary to love interest with Leo, the next-door butcher’s son—which begins with a series of escalating pranks on both sides. Without didacticism, the text offers a glimpse into two sets of rare challenges: those faced by Marlowe, grappling with the fact that her life was restored by another’s death, and those faced by Carmen and her father, still grieving over 16-year-old Luis, whose organs were donated after a car accident.
Readers will cheer for Marlowe’s bildungsroman—simultaneously unique and universal. (Fiction. 12-16)