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Irreplaceable

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3.23 of 5 stars 3.23  ·  rating details  ·  549 ratings  ·  156 reviews
Some things are impossible to replace . . . Alex Voormann, an intense, cerebral thirty-year-old archaeologist, is married to the woman of his dreams--an intelligent, ambitious botanist named Isabel. When Isabel is killed by a reckless driver, Alex reluctantly agrees to donate her heart. Janet Corcoran, a young mother of two and an art teacher at an inner-city school in Chi ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 9th 2010 by Hyperion (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,756)
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Jackie
This is a very intriguing novel about two families--one the family of an young organ donor in Iowa, the other of the recipient of one of those organs in Chicago. Though typically donations are kept confidential, an overheard conversation between doctors leads the curious and very grateful Janet, who received a very needed heart transplant to the names and addresses of her donor's husband, who wants nothing whatsoever to do with her, and mother, who embraces the chance to hold on to this last pie ...more
Tattered Cover Book Store
This book comes out in Feb 2009 and will be featured on the Feb IndieNext List.

Our reviews:

Joe says:
What is the trajectory of a heart after death? Donated, does it still retain some essence of its original owner? Does the recipient owe thanks to the donor's family? How long, after loss, is it okay to move on? These are just some of the questions posed in Stephen Lovely's powerful and haunting debut novel. Alex Voorman's wife, Isabel, is killed in a
truck-bike accident. Earlier, she had decided t
...more
Clare
What I learned from this book is that Stephen Lovely is a wonderful story teller. I also learned that when we are granted what we wish for, it is not always exactly what we want.
Alex and Isabel have a wonderful marriage. When Isabel is killed in a tragic accident and her heart is transplanted, life changes dramatically for many people. Lovely manages to tell this tale from many points of view and succeeds admirably in conveying love, loss, pain, guilt, and remorse. He does not flinch from any
...more
Lucy
Stephen Lovely and I share a mutual friend, so I had the pleasure of meeting him when I moved to Iowa City this fall. When he told me about his book, I was of course interested by the plot and the fact that the setting is so much like Iowa City, but I wasn't prepared for how much incredible research and authenticity he brings to the novel in regards to heart transplants and recovery from the surgery. That stuff was really fascinating, just in a technical sense--it sort of puts you in awe of what ...more
Samantha
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Darla
Okay, the title sounds romantic... and is, but not in a gushy way. The heart on the cover also made the book seem all tender and gooey, but it really was quite gritty. Throw in the author's last name of Lovely, and I was so afraid of this being horrifically chick-y. But, imagine this- the people behaved like they do in real life; behave badly, redeem themselves, then acted badly again! This is a very deep story, dealing with the many forms of grief, dynamics of organ donation between donors, rec ...more
Julie
This book intrigued me at times, touched me at times and offended me most other times. In the end, I just wanted it to be over. I thought the premise was interesting - organ donation and the emotional reactions of families dealing with loss and the stress of illness. I was offended though by the extreme narcissism of the characters: the woman who received the donated organ who thought it was acceptable to barrage her donor's husband with unwanted phone calls and letters without regard for his fe ...more
Nette
The reviews on the back flap made it sound like this novel would be all tender and schmoopy, but actually it was quite gritty, where people behave badly and redeem themselves and act badly again. You know, like in real life. Very well written, and the medical details were fascinating. (Of course, now I'll be checking my heartbeat for the next month, just in case I might be slipping into cardiomyopathy. )
Beth
A quite sad book but very good. I've never given much thought to the emotions the family of a donee goes through or the medical continuing concerns the receiver has. Heart-breaking story and not completely unexpected in it's plot twists but a worthy read.
Ajh
I could not put down this book. It is about organ donation and all the people it affects. It does skip around to different characters but manages to do it well. This is a book I would love to discuss with a group of people.
Darcy
I found this to be a tough book to read due to the subject manner, it seemed very much founded in reality. I found myself reading the story in small increments as you understood where everyone was coming from and there were really no winners.

Alex and Bernice lost the person they loved most and had a hard time moving on. I understand Bernice's wanting the contact from Janet to still have that connection to Isabel. I also understand Alex not wanting the contact, to have the reminder that his wife
...more
Dee
I finally finished Irreplaceable as our next book club. I am thinking I will enjoy the awareness and discussions this book will bring to the table at our next book club.

The plot and story were presented quickly and the reader seems to know the majority of the story right from the start. Alex is completely devastated when his amazing young wife, Isabel, is struck and killed by a truck as she is riding her bike. Obviously, husband and mother, Bernice, are devastated. Since Isabel made it very cle
...more
Eileen
I am going to remember this book forever. While reading it I kept doing something I've never done before- I kept flipping to the back cover to take yet another look at the author. I guess I wanted to keep fresh in my mind the person who could write such a sensitive, tender, amazing, thought-provoking book. Had I passed a mirror while I was reading it to view my own face, I'm pretty sure I would have seen genuine grief there. I am astonished that this is a work of fiction, Mr. Lovely writes as if ...more
Charity
I can't believe that so many people out there aren't organ donors. Seriously? What the hell do you need your organs for when you're dead? I know no one likes to think about death, but NEWSFLASH...you're mortal; you're going to die. Why not help postpone other people's death if you're dead anyway? I mean, you aren't using those organs for anything other than worm food, so help a brother out. I just don't get it. Anyway...

I thought the book was a rather nice look at the effects of death and life-a
...more
TKieninger
This book was good and it certainly made me think. I pondered how I would feel if I were in Alex's place. He was in such a place of negativity, for obvious reasons, and it's a place I would hope not to be should I be in the same position. Though difficult, I truly believe that I would embrance the recipient and family if given the chance. I found it sad that Bernice didn't seem to be getting on with her life as much as Alex by the end of the book. Perhaps if Isabel & Alex had been able to ha ...more
Judy
Stephen Lovely has written a lovely book. In writing about Isabel, a young women who is killed while riding her bicycle and has made the choice to be a organ donor, he covers the feelings of every person who is effected by her decision. The author has put himself in each person shoes and in doing so, also put the reader in the same shoes. I myself have a organ donor card. During the reading of this book, I thought hard if this is something I still would want to do when I die. The answer is yes. ...more
Kate
It was okay. The characters were a little too flat, but overall the writing was good and drew me in. Someone said they thought it cast organ transplants in a bad light, but I didn't think so, just in a new light. I thought it encouraged the reader to become an organ donor, and showed the story of a transplant from multiple sides, good and bad. Also, it was fun to read the scenes that took place in familiar Iowa City locations.
Ryn
If I could interview Stephen Lovely, I would ask him: how do you integrate exquisite nuanced detail with powerful authenticity? The characterization is so good that Alex, Isabel's mom, and even Isabel are more like folks I've known than folks I've read about. Complexity rarely goes hand in hand with elegance. It does here. I am in awe of Lovely's scalability -- mind-stretching concepts coupled to a key revealing bit.
Jennifer
I'm really torn on this one. There were aspects I loved and others I hated.

The first half or so was really fantastic, but then the story stalled and some of the characters started acting in appalling and unrealistic ways.

The overall book was too long and repetitive; a tougher editor would have cut out a good 50 pages and possibly the entire character of Jasper.
Donald
A very good novel concerning the aftermath of an accident that takes a life, but allows someone to receive a heart transplant, and the transplant's effect on the various people involved, from the donor's husband and mother, to the man responsible for the accident, and the recipient's family.
Barb
Good characters, not perferct but good, intriguing story and some beautifully written sections = really good book. I loved was Alex.
Sue
Readers who liked Lisa Genova's Still Alice or Jodi Picoult's My Sister's Keeper will probably appreciate Irreplaceable, due to the somewhat similar subject matter: serious life-threatening illness; families facing life-and-death situations for their loved ones, each family member responding in different ways, and all of them (us) with human imperfections; some descriptions of hard-to-face medical situations (parts of this book are not for the squeamish.)

Irreplaceable is a debut novel for Stephe
...more
Jake
This book took me awhile to get through and I couldn't figure out why. The story is very touching and, at first, I thought it would be hard to read about death and such for obvious reasons. There was a chapter wherein Bernice, the mother, talks about losing her daughter and I got a little teary-eyed I'm not ashamed to admit.

By the end of the book, I was really attached to the characters and that is a sign of a good writer. If you can make your reader care then you're golden. While the plotline o
...more
Sharon A.
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kimella Davis
This books made you wonder about being an organ donor. It takes you through the life of making a decision to become one, not know when you will actually be obligated to make this donation as you have to be a deceased person, which people typically do not think about death. It also takes you through the life of a person on a waiting list for an organ; the life challenges of family situations and work situations that suffer while a person is sick and in this situation of waiting on an actual donor ...more
Cicely
Ugh. I am sad that I made myself finish the whole thing. From the vapid characters to the completely unbelievable plot, with a twist of philosophical/political musing about organ donation, this whole book was a complete drag.

This book is the story of a woman who dies and donates her organs. The recipient of her heart tracks down the dead woman's husband and mother in law. This seemed very much like someone trying very hard to write about something they didn't know about, which was evident in th
...more
Shannon Arehart
I had a very hard time rating this one. There were many things I liked about the book but some things I didn't. But, in the end I went with 4 stars because this book makes you really THINK about organ donation. I have signed up, via my license, to be an organ donor should something happen to me, but I did it glibly, without considering the full weight of what it meant outside of "well, I don't need the organs if I'm dead." This book gives you a perspective from numerous angles - donor families, ...more
Lyn (Readinghearts)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paige
Organ donation can be a hard to read about subject, but let me say that I liked and learned much from this book. It starts with Isabel, who, while riding her bike, is hit and killed by a truck. As the story unravels, you learn that Isabel that recently decided to be an organ donor. Her husband had signed her card, thinking the card would never see the light of day again.

When faced with the decision, her husband follows Isabel's wishes and does what she wanted and donates her organs. However, th
...more
Bert Edens
Won this in a First Reads giveaway. Personalized by the author, no less! :)

I really enjoyed this book. It was a wonderful story about love and loss and how different people cope with the same life-altering event. Lovely does an outstanding job getting into the heads of the characters, allowing them to develop at their own pace, keeping their actions true to their character. Definitely a must read!

My only quibbles are:

1) The introduction of Kelly as a character. Not so much that she was introduce
...more
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Stephen Lovely graduated from Kenyon College and attended the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa. He is the author of a novel, Irreplaceable, and the Director of the Iowa Young Writers' Studio. He lives in Iowa City.
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“She always used to suspect that the price for happiness, the price for enjoying the company of a person you loved, was the steadily increasing risk of losing them, and at times, when she considered the possibility that she might lose Isabel or Clancy or, in the early days, Todd, Bernice didn't think she could stand it, didn't think she could go on living in a universe whose laws forced her to submit to such a terrible fear. Now she sees what a small price it is to pay, what staggering joy she received in return. You should be willing to pay that price for as little as a few days or hours with a person you love, she thinks, rubbing her fingers across a patch of linoleum the years have worn down to a cloudy smear.” 1 likes
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