Everything I Thought I Knew – Shannon Takaoka – Candlewick Press – Published 13 October 2020
Seventeen-year-old Chloe had a plan: work hard, get good grades, and attend a top-tier college. But after she collapses during cross-country practice and is told that she needs a new heart, all her careful preparations are laid to waste.
Eight months after her transplant, everything is different. Stuck in summer school with the underachievers, all she wants to do now is grab her surfboard and hit the waves—which is strange, because she wasn’t interested in surfing before her transplant. (It doesn’t hurt that her instructor, Kai, is seriously good-looking.)
And that’s not all that’s strange. There’s also the vivid recurring nightmare about crashing a motorcycle in a tunnel and memories of people and places she doesn’t recognize.
Is there something wrong with her head now, too, or is there another explanation for what she’s experiencing?
As she searches for answers, and as her attraction to Kai intensifies, what she learns will lead her to question everything she thought she knew—about life, death, love, identity, and the true nature of reality.
While the start and middle of Everything I Thought I Knew have everything I love in a book – heartwarming story, building romance, struggling friendship, introspection following trauma – it is the ending, the glorious, surprising, on-my-gosh-no-way, ending that makes this book so gosh-darned amazing. I was shocked, stunned, honestly a little traumatised. It is honest, brilliant, amazing, and defies the realms of possibility just enough to have you questioning everything you thought you knew.
Chloe is lucky. Or so everyone tells her. Lucky when she collapsed and her heart failed that she didn’t die. Lucky that she received a heart transplant. Lucky she can continue her life. Eight months after her transplant, Chloe is finishing high school via summer school and watching her friends move away to college. Things are changing for Chloe. She does’t feel like the same person. She is sneaking away to take surfing lessons from the gorgeous Kai and has recurring dreams about crashing a motorcycle. Flashbacks, seeing people, knowing things she shouldn’t know. Something is wrong and so she starts to search for answers.
Honestly, the less I say about this book the better, because I don’t want to spoil anything. The surprise, the journey, the twists are all so worth it. I love it when I discover a book I can shove (literally) into the hands of my students and say, don’t worry about what it’s about, just read it, you’ll love it. Everything I thought I Knew is exactly that kind of book. Heartbreaking, uplifting, challenging, eye-opening, so much fun and yet I couldn’t stop crying. This book delivers all the emotions.
If you love gut-punching realistic fiction, then Everything I Thought I Knew is the perfect book for you.
The publishers provided an advanced readers copy of this book for reviewing purposes. All opinions are my own.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Heart transplants, hearts, organ donors, surfing, family, grief, loss, friendship, romance.
Reading age guide: Ages 14 and up.
Advisory: Frequent references to dying and death. Frequent drug and alcohol references, references and use of marijuana. Coarse language, f*** (6), sh** (27), di** (3), as***** (3), bi*** (3), pi** (5).
Published: 13 October 2020 by Candlewick Press.
Format: Hardcover, paperback, ebook, audiobook. 320 pages.