Review: In a Heartbeat by Loretta Ellsworth

In a Heartbeat by Loretta Ellsworth
February 2nd 2010 | Walker Books for Young Readers

When a small mistake costs sixteen-year-old Eagan her life during a figure-skating competition, she leaves many things unreconciled, including her troubled relationship with her mother. From her vantage point in the afterlife, Eagan reflects back on her memories, and what she could have done differently, through her still-beating heart.

When fourteen-year-old Amelia learns she will be getting a heart transplant, her fear and guilt battle with her joy at this new chance at life. And afterwards when she starts to feel different - dreaming about figure skating, craving grape candy - her need to learn about her donor leads her to discover and explore Eagan's life, meeting her grieving loved ones and trying to bring the closure they all need to move on.

Told in alternating viewpoints, In a Heartbeat tells the emotional and compelling story of two girls sharing one heart.


I've been meaning to post this review for quite some time now, I'm so sorry! I keep taking my reviews way too seriously, I finally found my way through this when I was writing a few opinion pieces for my favourite books available at my local library. I managed to write, write, write quite easily and I definitely feel I am getting better at it, I'm able to push through the impossible stages. One day, I would like my reviews to seem like I am simply telling a friend the good and bad parts of a story.

Each book I choose to read seems to aim at opening our eyes to situations faced by a small minority of teens today, circumstances that are not widely discussed and possess intricate details that are not so well known to the general public but could happen to anyone. I'm not sure how realistic this story would feel to a heart transplant recipient but I found it to be a light, easy read even though the outcome for both characters could very well have been an untimely death.

In A Heartbeat is told in alternating chapters of two teenager girls - Amelia, who will die in a matter of months if she does not receive a new heart and Eagan, an ice skater who happens to sign up as an organ donor by chance on her drivers license a few months beforehand.

I found Eagan's side of the story (the organ donor looking back on her life) much more interesting, whereas the other side compliments it very well bringing forward what life will be like with a brand new heart.

The new heart not only gives Amelia a brand new outlook on life but she starts to crave grape flavoured candy - her donors favourite. She starts to feel different with an inkling for ice skating. All of these faint feelings made me quite critical of the ideas behind the story but didn't really interfere with my empathy for the characters.

I think it's very important to be excited about a read as you stare at the cover on your shelf waiting to be read. I was excited to read this copy as the idea of learning about a teenagers heart transplant seemed quite interesting but I found it to be an okay read and not really getting the feeling of greatness I get with my favourite books.

If the summary captivates you, definitely pick this up anyway, simply to experience the circumstances of a heart transplant.

(For anyone who has read this or does read this, it did bother me that we never found out about Miki, the little girl helping Eagan along her way. I was hoping it to be the little sister she never met. Maybe a sequel is planned?)


  1. Wow this book sounds really emotional. It reminds me of the movie Return to Me. It's great! Thanks for the review!

  2. Nice review! Definitely sounds interesting, and I want to learn about Eagan as well. I wonder if she died in an accident and therefore donated her heart...? I'm not sure if the cravings are scientifically correct, but sounds like a great story. :)


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