Wednesday, October 30, 2019

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae, by Stephanie Butland

St. Martin's Press, ISBN 9781250217011, October 2019

Ailsa Rae was born with a three-chambered heart, and has spent her life with surgeries, drugs, and hospital stays to keep her alive. At 28, she's been waiting for a heart transplant for years, and now either she gets it, or she won't live out the year.

She gets it, and starts to discover what it's like to be a normal person, who can expect to live, if not a normal life span, at least one that has a few decades ahead rather than a few more weeks. This includes learning to take responsibility for herself and her decisions, in a way that previously she not only didn't need to, but truly couldn't.

It's harder than she expected, and not nearly the delight she might have expected. She needs to learn to separate a bit from her mother, Hayley, without permanently damaging the relationship of the parent who fought so hard to keep her alive. For the first time in her life, she needs to get a job--with no prior job experience to offer. She needs to find out what she enjoys doing, when walking across the room is no longer the limit of her ability to exert herself.

This could sound a bit grim, but in fact it's warm and enlightening and, ultimately, very positive. She becomes a serious walker. She learns to dance, and she finds she likes working in a coffee shop and getting them what they want.

She starts to work out what she really wants to do with her life, and it's a bit more ambitious than being a coffee shop waiter.

She meets a drop-dead gorgeous guy who has his own complicated history, very different from her own complications.

It's a very rewarding book to read. It's all in the relationships, and Ailsa's beginnings of growing into a mature, independent adult after a life of forced dependency. And no, it's not all fun, but yes, Ailsa, and the reader, do have a lot of fun.


I received a free electronic galley of this book from the publisher via NetGalley.

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