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3.19  ·  Rating details ·  649 ratings  ·  174 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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Average rating 3.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  649 ratings  ·  174 reviews

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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
Jan 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 28, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Jul 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Dar B
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
Mar 29, 2009 rated it really liked it
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. )
Apr 15, 2010 rated it liked it
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.
Mar 14, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
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.
Jul 10, 2010 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 16, 2010 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2010, fiction
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
Feb 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 16, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
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'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
May 05, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jun 05, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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.
May 04, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Jun 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 25, 2009 rated it really liked it
Good characters, not perferct but good, intriguing story and some beautifully written sections = really good book. I loved was Alex.
Jim Gleason
One criteria I use for evaluating a novel like this is to see how long it takes me to read the book. Some get read in a day or two, often starting slowly but once into their story, it can’t be put down until you reach the ending. Other daily priorities get put aside, sleep is sacrificed in staying up to get to that final chapter, etc. For me, that’s a highly recommended book, in general. Naturally there are other factors to consider, but if it takes me a week or longer, then that story didn’t ca ...more
Apr 03, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Lyn (Readinghearts)
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 29, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2018-goal-of-72
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Becky Griffus
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was ok
Really the organ donation details were interesting. JASPER just weird. Strange interactions between characters. I just couldn't get into it. I just wanted it to be over.
Sara Morcom
Sep 25, 2019 rated it liked it
It was ok. An interesting concept but poorly executed. I could not get into this book or the characters. Woud pass if asked.
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a wise and insightful story about ordinary people whose lives are woven together because of an organ transplant.
Feb 15, 2010 rated it really liked it
I enjoyed Lovely's take on the perspectives of many of the people on both sides of organ transplantation. While at first I thought he must have had a friend or loved one who was a donor or received a transplant to inspire this writing, the author interview at the end indicated his motivation was related to his work at a pediatric hospital. One of my favorite sections, which was a minor part of the book, but completely fascinating to me, was where he describes the surgery to recover the donor, Is ...more
Shannon Arehart
Jun 12, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
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Stephen Lovely was born in Dallas, Texas and spent most of his childhood in Ohio. He attended Kenyon College, where he majored in English, and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, where he studied with Deborah Eisenberg, Margot Livesey, Ethan Canin, and Frank Conroy. His first novel, Irreplaceable, was published by Hyperion/Voice in 2009 and translated into German, Dutch, and Chinese. Irreplaceable receive ...more
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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.” 3 likes
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