The Heart Between Us – Lindsay Harrel – Thomas Nelson – Published 13 March 2018
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 in her small Minnesota hometown and living with her parents, 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.
The Heart Between Us contains an epic journey – both around the world and through the steps of relationship reconciliation. Two sisters, both trying to find answers, two love stories, both about second chances and new beginnings, and a whole lot of travel.
Megan Jacobs is stuck – still living at home with her parents even though she is now in her thirties, still working part-time in a job that she likes but doesn’t love, still wondering what happened to her relationship with her twin sister, still regretting giving up on a chance to follower her dreams, still scared that her new heart and health will fail. When Megan meets the parents of her heart-transplant donor, she surprises herself by deciding to fulfil 24 steps on Amanda’s bucket list, and so begins a travel adventure. She is even more surprised when her sister, Crystal, joins her. Crystal, too, is searching for something – answers to her marriage troubles, inspiration for her career, and maybe a chance to face the fears she has held all her life.
Admittedly, I didn’t love this book. It was good, just not great. Or maybe it just wasn’t the right book for me. There is so much happening in this story: 24 bucket-list travel destinations and the intertwining stories of two sisters and their love, family, faith and career troubles. And yet, the book feels slow, I often felt bored with the story, and it took me a long time to really engage with the plot. I enjoyed Crystal’s story more than Megan’s, but it was Amanda, Megan’s heart donor, who I really wanted to get to know, whose story I really wanted to read, and yet we are only given glimpses of it through her journal entries.
With so many travel destinations and bucket-list steps, the majority are skipped over, and the others are simple steps in the story. It is not until near the end of the book that Megan reunites with her old friend, Caleb, and their friendship deepens. As I mentioned before, it was Crystal’s story in which I was more interested. She is battling conflicting pressures. She wants to succeed at work, but it is a huge drain on her time and energy. She loves her husband, but he wants her to work less and to start a family. Crystal is also holding onto a lot of fear and regret from her childhood, and that is effecting her ability to convey her feelings to those around her. Again, the end of the book brings more drama, complications, and energy to Crystal’s story.
The Heart Between Us is a contemporary Christian novel, and faith is neatly woven into the story as both Megan and Crystal finally realise that the answers they search for cannot be found from within their own limited resources, but that they must instead learn to rely on God and the others around them for help.
The Heart Between Us is a sweet story about family, love, travel and second chances.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Genre: Christian contemporary.
Themes: Travel, heart transplants, bucket lists, relationships, sisters, family, romance, marriage.
Published: 13 March 2018 by Thomas Nelson.
Format: Paperback, ebook, audiobook. 336 pages.
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