Danielle's Reviews > Second Hand Heart

Second Hand Heart by Catherine Ryan Hyde
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Nov 22, 10

bookshelves: books-i-own, chicklit, for-review
Read in November, 2010

Vida means “Life” in Spanish. Ironic enough, the actual Vida has a life that revolves around death, or at the very least the almost near certainty of it in her near future. When Vida is suddenly given a second chance at the hand of another she does what comes naturally, she seeks out the one her new heart has lost – Richard. It’s Richard’s loss and Vida’s gain that moves them both forward in life, their paths intertwining, but not exactly in the ways you’d expect. Both seeking something just beyond their grasp, but more important than either can comprehend in their current situations. Life.

Obviously I’d be remiss to fail to mention how Second Hand Heart initially drew me in because of its similarities to the popular movie, Return to Me. It’s one of my favorites. But outside of the fact that both the book and the movie have heart transplant patients as the central character and a love story of sorts, they truly are very different. One major difference being that Richard, the husband who lost his wife chooses to remain in open contact with whomever receives his late wife’s organs. This is crucial, because were it not for this very unique interaction between Vida and Richard the story could be completely different. Both are excellent though, mind you.

Vida. Her character was so well developed. Honestly. You could tell from the very beginning she’d had a lot of time to think. She was okay with death, which for most of us is quite the opposite. Once she’s given the opportunity to be free of this daily burden she hardly knows what to do with herself, and it’s evident even in the way she speaks. In the beginning of the story you almost want to shake her, she’s so passive. After a while though I came to realize that was just another way of coping, of helping those around her deal with the death she’s already come to grips with. After her life “begins” she’s like a kindergartner asking a thousand questions, making demands, and always seeming to wander aimlessly but with a purpose. By the end, she finally comes to a certain easiness with her new life and I loved the transformation.

Richard was a completely different situation all together for me. I felt like I could relate so well to him in so many situations. His fear for his wife’s heart now in Vida’s small body and his utter confusion at how to proceed with life. I think so many of us are like this. We live life taking for granted the things we hold most dear, until one day they are just gone. Most of us don’t get the opportunity for long good-byes like Vida thought she had, although I’m not sure it entirely matters. I think what I was reminded of most with Richard was the importance of truly loving those we care for like we may not see them even a few moments later. Make sure we appreciate them, tell them and be mindful of them. Because you never know.

Second Hand Heart was more than a story about a girl who got a second take on life and fell in love because of it. It’s about living and appreciating and loving. Never letting go, but remembering that life stops for no one. Both Vida and Richard had incredible journeys to struggle through, both extremely different in ways and so similar in others. And once they’d realized they needed each other, they were finally able to move forward and live.
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