This review is posted as a part of TLC’s book tour for The Heart Between Us.
~ About the Book ~
Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide and living with her parents in her small Minnesota hometown, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.
When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.
As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most.
Genre: Women’s Fiction/Romance
Release date: 13 March 2018
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
~ Excerpt ~
Megan picked up the journal and traced the picture. She opened to the front, where Amanda’s name was scrawled across the page in typical teenage bubbly letters.
Gary cleared his throat. “In this particular journal, she created a bucket list for herself. Things she wanted to do, places she wanted to see. It was Amy’s—her therapist’s—idea, a way for Amanda to replace her losses and grief with something else. Joy. Hope. Something to look toward instead of always looking backward.”
Megan’s gaze careened upward and connected with Gary’s. Oh, how she could relate to that last statement.
“That’s her bucket list on the first page.”
She scanned it and saw a lot of dreams—from things as silly as kissing the Blarney Stone in Ireland to adventurous goals like running with the bulls in Pamplona. Number nineteen made Megan giggle: Kiss a handsome stranger in the rain.
“Take a look at the last item on Amanda’s bucket list.”
Megan flipped the page and saw a few more items. When her eyes hit number twenty-five, her mouth fell open.
25. Give my heart away.
Megan covered her mouth with a hand. The air buzzed with premonition. It did not feel like a coincidence that she was here.
Charlene twisted the huge ring on her finger. “We know it’s not how she meant it, but she did that—for you. She gave her heart away. She completed one item on her list.”
“And you don’t know how grateful I am.” A tear slipped from Megan’s nose onto the paper, thankfully missing the print. She smoothed it away with her thumb.
For a moment, Charlene studied her. Something in her gaze seemed to read something inside of Megan. She glanced at Gary and worried her lip. “Would you . . . would you like to keep the journal for a bit?”
“Oh, I couldn’t do that. It’s precious to you.” And yet something in her knew that she wanted nothing more than to read Amanda’s words, to know more deeply this girl who had given her heart away to a stranger.
Charlene stood, approached Megan, and squatted next to her. She reached out, hesitant for a moment, and placed her hand over Megan’s—Amanda’s—heart. “It is indeed. But I feel a prompting to let it go for a while, to allow someone else the pleasure of knowing my girl, struggles and all.”
“Are you sure?” The words came out a whisper.
Charlene glanced back at Gary, and he nodded. She faced Megan again. “I’m sure.”
And Megan had the strangest feeling that this visit wasn’t going to be the end of one chapter as she’d hoped. It was going to be the beginning of something else entirely.
Taken from “The Heart Between Us” by Lindsay Harrel
Copyright © 2018 by Linsday Harrel.
Used by permission of http://www.thomasnelson.com/.
~ Review ~
Machu Picchu, the Taj Mahal, the Great Barrier Reef, and a night in a Celtic castle are just some of the experiences you’ll share with Megan and her sister Crystal when you pick up this book. But you’ll share more than a physical journey with them; you’ll share an emotional one too—one that confronts years of disappointments and fears due to Megan’s life in and out of hospital with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. And the disappointments and fears are shared equally by Megan and Crystal because, while Megan may have been the one with the health issues, no family member can remain unaffected by the demands of such an illness.
The narrative is shared equally between the sisters throughout the story, and while I was invested in both of their stories from the outset, for me it was Crystal’s story that tugged hardest in the beginning. She’s married to a man she loves more than anything, but ambition is driving her so hard she’s not only losing her creative spark, she’s also in danger of losing her marriage. Furthermore, she’s never really dealt with the emotions that come with having an ill sister—a twin sister, at that—who requires a significant amount of their parents’ attention and around whom their entire life needed to be organized.
I thought Lindsay Harrel did a wonderful job of allowing the reader to sense the proverbial elephant in the room with the sisters and showing the gradual crumbling of the walls between them over the course of the journey. How’s that for a mixed metaphor?! But you get my drift. I also loved the way their physical and emotional journeys intertwined—each leading into and supporting the other. And, of course, for the romance lovers among us, there was not only the discovery of new love, but the rekindling of established love (although the men only really come back into the story in the second half.)
The one thing I wasn’t 100% sold on was the tension that arose between Megan and Caleb at the eleventh hour. I felt it was a slight overreaction on his part and a little out of character, but it also brought helped bring Megan’s list to a poignant end, so I’ll forgive him!
I received a copy of this novel from the publisher. This has not influenced the content of my review, which is my honest and unbiased opinion.
~ About the Author ~
Lindsay Harrel is a lifelong book nerd with a B.A. in journalism and M.A. in English. She lives in Arizona with her young family and two golden retrievers in serious need of training. Lindsay has held a variety of jobs, including curriculum editor for two universities, medical and business writer, and copywriter for a digital marketing agency. Now she juggles stay-at-home mommyhood with working freelance jobs, teaching college English courses online, and—of course—writing novels.
When she actually has time to do other things, she loves to sing, read, and sip passion iced teas from Starbucks. She loves to watch God work in ordinary lives to create something extraordinary, and she writes to bring hope to those who may have lost it along the way. Connect with her at http://www.LindsayHarrel.com and any other place she hangs out online, including Facebook and Twitter.