5 stars out of 5
It's safe to say I'm not as wildly enthusiastic about this book as others appear to be, but at the same time, there's no way I can in good conscience give it fewer than 5 stars. The official description claims - and I totally agree - that it's a compelling read. Once I started it, I didn't want to put it down till I'd reached the end. Really.
Jenna, a 30-year-old woman recovering from a heart transplant, feels compelled to meet the donor family despite warnings from her therapist, family and friends that it's not in anyone's best interests. But as she begins to grow strong enough to return to work part-time, she experiences strange dreams and sensations. Soon, she begins to believe that her new heart - which came from an accident victim named Callie - may have been installed with Callie's memories intact. Those memories are disturbing to Jenna, to say the least, suggesting that the auto accident in which Callie was killed may in fact have been murder.
After Jenna meets Callie's still-distraught mother and father and learns that another daughter - Callie's sister Sophie - apparently has gone missing, she vows to get to the truth in the belief that it will bring closure to the grieving parents. She visits Callie's former workplace and even gets to know Nathan, the fiance Callie left behind. On the surface, he seems caring and very much still missing his almost-bride - but here, too, Jenna has a nagging feeling that what she sees isn't what Callie got.
When Jenna tries to tell others about the messages her heart is sending, though, she hits brick wall after brick wall. Not her therapist, not her transplant doctor, not her former boyfriend and not even her own parents believe her. She's delusional, they insist - the result of the trauma she's been through and the potent drugs she's been taking to prevent her body from rejecting the new organ.
But the more she tries to fight off her feelings, the stronger they become; and the more she pokes around, the more she becomes convinced that something sinister happened. The problem with that, though, is that the closer she gets to the truth, the more she puts herself in danger - not only from over-taxing her new heart too soon after the surgery but also from whoever is responsible for Callie's death.
Needless to say, the story zips along quickly amid plenty of action, suspense and twists that kept my eyes glued to my Kindle screen as well as a ton of second guessing and hand wringing on Jenna's part (a titch over the top, IMHO). And by the time I'd reached the midpoint, Jenna had bitten her tongue so often that I figured if that rate continued she wouldn't have more than a nub left by the last page.
Everything comes together in an ending that surprises in many ways, but of course I can't reveal more than that without spoiling things for other readers. What I will say is if you like head games and being kept on the edge of your seat, hie thee hither and get a copy of this book. Many thanks to the publisher, via NetGalley, for allowing me to read it in exchange for an honest review.
The Gift by Louise Jensen (Bookouture, December 2016); 320 pp.