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The Heart

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  8,756 ratings  ·  1,232 reviews
Just before dawn on a Sunday morning, three teenage boys go surfing. While driving home exhausted, the boys are involved in a fatal car accident on a deserted road. Two of the boys are wearing seat belts; one goes through the windshield. The doctors declare him brain-dead shortly after arriving at the hospital, but his heart is still beating.

The Heart takes place over the
Hardcover, 242 pages
Published February 9th 2016 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published January 2nd 2014)
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Lesley The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal
This book was compelling.
Quickest I’ve ever read a book!
I was carried away on the wave of the narrative – which was pre…more
The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal
This book was compelling.
Quickest I’ve ever read a book!
I was carried away on the wave of the narrative – which was presumably the author’s intention, given the organ donor’s passion.
There was just sufficient backstory of the characters involved - Alice, Simon, Laura etc. – to inform their actions but not so much it interrupted the pace of the heart as it stormed through the ‘tunnel’.
Particularly liked the liking of the heart transplant surgeon to a rock star!
Brilliant metaphor, brilliant dialogue and such clever writing style, the like of which I’ve never seen before. I must give huge credit to the interpreter for not losing the author’s creative word usage.
It felt like a fictional documentary – if ever there could be such a thing. I would also recommend this book to everyone pondering becoming an organ donor.

The descriptions of each character’s emotional states reinforces the heart’s oft-held function – as the carrier of loves, likes, passions and heart-breaks. This is a book I don’t believe I’ll ever forget.
Susan Wolford I don't think it will lift your spirits, but it will enlighten you. I had a friend who had a heart transplant (unsuccessful, BTW), and I know more abo…moreI don't think it will lift your spirits, but it will enlighten you. I had a friend who had a heart transplant (unsuccessful, BTW), and I know more about the process and the personalities that come into play. I feel better knowing what precautions were made.

It may lift your spirits to know that there are so many safety precautions in place to make sure an error or some other mishap doesn't take place.

It's also uplifting to know that the sadness at the beginning of the book will result in a joyful situation in the end. (less)

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Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  8,756 ratings  ·  1,232 reviews

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May 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france, 2016, reviewed
Reports from the heart

Mend the Living is a gripping novel of stunning beauty, an audacious and highly original composition on the fragility of life.

One man's death is another man's breath. As to the donation and transplantation of vital organs, this proverb, when interpreted literally, is a lapalissade. In Dutch, there exists an expression with a similar significance, connecting death with bread instead of breath: one man’s death is another one’s bread. Perhaps it is less harshly formulated
Diane S ☔
Feb 21, 2016 rated it liked it
A horrible tragedy, a young man lies in a hospital declared brain dead. This is a book that takes place in twenty four hours, from his declaration of death, his parents being told and the process started for the transplanting of his organs. Stories are told about everyone involved in this devastating process, from the parent's grief, the doctor who declares him dead, the transplant co-ordination, and everyone else involved in this process which means sorrow for some and new life for others.

Jen Campbell
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing
'Maybe there is a scrapyard for organs somewhere, she thinks, removing her jewellery and her watch, some sort of garbage heap where hers will be dumped along with others, evacuated from the hospital through a back door in large trash bags; she imagines a container for organic matter where it will be recycled, transformed into a paste, a flesh compost served by unimaginably cruel heirs of Atreus to their rivals, who enter the palace dining room with hearty appetites - served as pancakes or steak ...more
Jul 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france
Is it possible to fall in love with a book? Probably yes, as it has just happened to me. The symptoms are typical: I keep thinking about it almost all the time. I can't sleep. I can't eat. I can't concentrate. Fortunately, I'm having summer holidays at the moment, otherwise it would be really hard.

I want to share my thoughts and impressions with you badly. I really do. The problem is I am at a complete loss for words. I think it would be better if, instead of writing a review, I could show you a
Dec 26, 2016 rated it it was ok
I really enjoyed the basic story concerning all that is involved with organ donation: the loss of loved deceased,telling family and getting permission, harvesting, transport,all the emotional upheaval of all these people and the myriad other issues involved in the process.There was also a varied cast of believable and often compelling characters.

Many reviewers thought the author wrote beautifully. IMO, author took purple prose to the level of aubergine. Majority of book was walls of text. One s
3.5 Stars.

Oh My....what to say. One minute I'm glued to the pages and the next I'm wondering why in the world the author is introducing yet another character....one with a story that went on and on and wasn't (for me) significant to the plot....for what purpose?

Anyway, overall I thought 75% of THE HEART to be extraordinary, informative and one dam fine read....the other 25% a bit tedious.

IT ALL HAPPENS IN 24 HOURS beginning with some early morning surfing fun for three teens that turns deadly br

Oct 04, 2016 rated it liked it
3 stars

My feelings were all over the place for The Heart (or I guess as it's titled on the francophone side of the pond, Réparer les vivants; something about "Heal the Living" doesn't quite resonate in English). Parts of Maylis de Kerangal's short, hyper-stylistic, fictional take on the world of organ transplantation were just amazing; other parts kerflop like an Emergency Organ Transport van's blown-out Michelin.

When she sticks to the core subject (the aftermath of teen surfer Simon Limbres' a
Lark Benobi
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it
This novel is a great example of how simplicity can be transformed via some kind of alchemy known as "great writing" into high art. I'm reminded of Picasso's "Bouquet of Peace." The story of The Heart is so basic that I almost gave the novel a pass after reading the book jacket--the plot is the stuff of straight-to-video movies--and yet in Kerangal's hands it transforms itself into a story that is exquisitely particular and full of humanity. I'm in awe of her storytelling skills and I'm grateful ...more
Roger Brunyate
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science, top-ten-2016
To Repair the Living
Bury the dead and repair the living.
This line from Chekhov's Platonov both explains the French title of this prizewinning novel, Réparer les vivants, and sketches its narrative arc in a single stroke, simple and daring at the same time. For it is the story of a heart transplant, from the last hours and death of the donor to the restoration of the recipient. All taking place within a single day and night. But a very eventful day, involving many people whom we get to know a
Dec 09, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 rounded up because the writing is just fantastic. Despite quite a bit of buzz earlier this year and some positive reviews from trusted GR friends, I was skeptical of this book and almost took a pass. It seemed like a simple Lifetime movie story. Tragic accident, brain death, heart transplant. I was expecting weepy maudlin prose. It is not that at all. It is a simple story but the prose is outstanding and the way the author makes you feel like you ARE the characters shows a real talent. I wil ...more
Apr 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2016
One heart, one magnificent heart. The heart in question belongs to Simon Limbres, a 19-year-old boy, not a perfect boy, a passionate surfer who has barely has had the chance to inhabit the person he will become.

In this astoundingly good novel, Malis De Kerangal introduces us to Simon briefly, when he is thrumming with life, surfing on a cold morning with two good friends. Just pages later, he is close to death, the result of a car accident. The effect is jarring: life contrasted with death, risk
Feb 10, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So much has been written about this novel, almost all positive and absolutely justified. I must say that at first I had some trouble with the exuberant prose of De Kerangal. But after a while I saw that this had to do with her attempt to make the impetuous and energetic feeling of the young men surfing at the beginning of the novel almost physically tangible. That is indeed something that also keeps coming back: the prose of De Kerangal is extremely visual and uses powerful sentences to make the ...more
Paul Fulcher
Mar 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"For Thomas Remige, a clear refusal was worth more than a consent torn from someone in confusion, delivered with forceps, and regretted fifteen days later when people are ravaged by remorse, losing sleep and sinking in sorrow, we have to think of the living, he often says, chewing the end of a match, we have to think of the ones left behind - on the back of his office door, he had taped a photocopied page for Platanov, a play he'd never seen, never read, but this fragment of dialogue between Voi ...more
Although I've read reviews and seen this book appear often over the last year, and knew I really wanted to read it, I couldn't remember anything about what is was about or why.

It's really down to a consistent feeling and feedback from readers whom I admire and respect, where their brief tweets of encouragement were all that was necessary to ignite the flame of motivation to make me decide that this would be the first #WIT novel I'd read in August 2018.

How to describe it?

There's a clue in the t
(3.5) Nineteen-year-old Simon Limbeau is declared brain dead in a French hospital after a car accident, but his heart lives on: metaphorically through the love of his parents, sister, friends, and girlfriend; but also literally, in the recipient of his organ donation. Again and again de Kerangal makes a distinction between the physical reality of organs and what they represent: “Simon’s eyes are not just his nervous retina, his taffeta iris, his pupil of pure black in front of the crystalline – ...more
Aug 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was transfixed by this book. At first, I didn't want to read it. A three hundred word opening sentence? Really? But I was immediately seduced, and continued to be seduced by the atmosphere - the atmospheres - that de Karangal creates as she introduces us to Simon, the boy who loves to surf, but who dies in a road accident as he and his friends return from an early morning assignment with the waves.

He's brain-dead. His perfect body is there for his mother, his father to see, lying on his hospi
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This novel is astonishing, a tour de force. De Kerangal visually, viscerally brings to life...and to death...a teenage boy, Simon Limbres, who is sent into an irreversible coma by a car accident, after an early morning surfing expedition. The boy's brain has shut down, but his heart continues to pump; his skin is warm; his hair still is salty from his dawn surf. Soon, nurses and doctors will monitor him, specialists will remove his organs; transplant surgeons will transfer his strong, still livi ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This novel is the story of a heart transplant, but really it is more about the people surrounding the situation and their individual stories. As seen on The Readers Podcast summer reading longlist, which I'm very grateful for because somehow this one had slipped by me.

I'd say the writing won't be for everyone. What could be a very simple linear story veers off into many tangents to allow for each character to have their own focus. These are often only 1-2 pages in dense prose, but some of the wo
Mary Soderstrom
Jun 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a book that is impossible to find in Montreal libraries--it's a run away success here, and every copy is checked out. Because a book group of friends I belong to wanted to read it though, I bought a e-version and enjoyed reading it on the Kobo that until then I'd had great problems with. (Note: it's not available yet in English: will be published as The Heart in 2016.)

The novel takes place within 24 hours one winter day in Northern France. Three guys go surfing, getting up before the sun
Dec 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorite-fiction
Breathtaking and visceral.
Apr 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actual rating: 3.5

This is a story (that starts out) about Simon Limbres. But when Simon is involved in an accident at the opening of the novel, left in a coma/a state of brain death, and declared medically “dead”, part of him remains the constant throughout— his heart. This book follows many characters: Simon’s parents are there, his girlfriend, too... but a majority of the pages are devoted to the revolving door of doctors and nurses that are in some way involved with Simon’s case. I found this
I ended up skimming long sections of this book. I found the longwinded descriptions of the private lives of the characters annoyingly irrelevant (why do I need to hear about the nurse's one night stand, for instance?) as I did the endless, multiple similes and metaphors used to describe virtually everything in the book - seriously, one is enough! The passages describing the emotional states of the family and patients were very effective, but I would have liked more factual detail and fewer lyric ...more
Jul 20, 2017 rated it liked it
The Heart, about the fate of a young man who lies brain dead in a hospital after a car accident, was engaging but uneven. The extravagant and overworked language dissipated its power and my own heart became calloused.
Mar 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Utterly compelling. I could not put it down. Who knew that a book about a heart transplant operation could be so completely gripping and all-consuming? The writing is a key factor here: the language and style bring an immediacy and an urgency to everything. The translation must be, I think, amazing. Clearly, I haven't read the original, but this English version is so good it is hard to imagine the book starting life in a different language.

It's a sad story with an element of hope as it explores
Apr 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-read-2017
Simon Limbeau is in search of that perfect wave. He knows it is out there, and perhaps this will be the day that he finds it, the forecast seems to indicate that it will be good. Rising just before 6 am, he ventures into the freezing morning to climb in the van with his friends to hit the beach. It is a journey Simon has undertaken hundreds of times. Waves were found, ridden and conquered and they pile back in the van trying to warm up. Chris turns the key in the van and begins the return journe ...more
Laline Paull
Apr 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've been forcing this book on people since I read it - I can't even remember how I first heard about it but the other day I was delighted to be asked to blurb the new paperback edition, and I say words to the effect (if not these actual ones) 'I wish I'd written this book. Brilliant in every way.'
A great cathartic poetic leap of the imagination. And apparently she has stage presence like a rock star too. FFS!
Joce (squibblesreads)
Apr 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
4.25 stars
Read in Jessica Moore's translation, published in the UK and Canada as 'Mend the Living'. (The US translation, by Sam Taylor, is called 'The Heart'.)

Sometimes superlative, sometimes infuriating. Like Lee in his review of another recent translated novella, The Story of My Teeth, I want to give this both 1 star and 5 stars. (But definitely not 6 stars.) It does at least succeed in transcending the cheap-magazine, commercial-weepie idea of the story of a heart transplant.

From the get-go, there are
Cherise Wolas
After recently reading Painting Time by de Kerangal, I was interested in reading more of her work that struck me as a literary version of pointillism, an intricate series of precise details, research and language, instead of painted dots, that form a whole. So too with The Heart, the detail of a medical procedure, fiction providing a narrative for medicine, here a heart transplant. With masterly control of language - and a marvelous translation - the novel spans 24 hours, and opens with a death, ...more
Elizabeth A
May 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, translated
I'd heard that this book was all the rage in France and wanted to see what all the fuss was about. My copy is translated by Sam Taylor.

Medical science has advanced to the point that transplants are no longer considered all that unusual, but how often do we really think about all the players involved in a transplant? There are of course the donor and the recipient(s), their families, and the medical staff that manage, or perform the actual operations, and all these humans carny their own individ
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The Mookse and th...: 2016 Longlist: Mend the Living 5 57 May 13, 2016 10:06AM  
ManBookering: Mend the Living / The Heart by Maylis de Kerangal 14 85 Mar 19, 2016 11:30AM  

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Maylis de Kerangal est une femme de lettres française, née le 16 juin 1967 au Havre. Elle passe son enfance au Havre, fille et petite-fille de capitaine au long cours. Elle étudie en classe préparatoire au lycée Jeanne-d'Arc de Rouen et ensuite à Paris de 1985 à 1990 l'histoire, la philosophie et l'ethnologie. Elle commence à travailler chez Gallimard jeunesse une première fois de 1991 à 1996, ava ...more

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29 likes · 6 comments
“The moment of death is no longer to be considered as the moment the heart stops, but as the moment when cerebral function ceases. In other words: I no longer think, therefore I no longer am. The heart is dead, long live the brain—a symbolic coup d’état, a Revolution.” 8 likes
“They used to stay up late, talking into the night while the house was asleep, and maybe they would even whisper I love you, not really knowing what it was they were saying, only that they were saying it to each other” 3 likes
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