Publishing year: 2016
From the beginning of this book we can feel a loaded atmosphere with tension.
The prologue is titled ‘after’, and we see a woman running, trying to escape someone, and she is very scared. The novel moves back in time, and we are introduced to Jenna, who is in therapy. She is thirty, and we learn that six months ago, she almost died. After contracting some virus from her boyfriend, her heart became weak as a consequence of a viral myocarditis. Her parents and boyfriend were told she was going to die as the only solution would be a transplant, but that was a very difficult possibility. Yet, one day the doctor came and told her that there was a heart for her, and she had her transplant.
Things changed for Jenna after that. It seemed as if her life had been turned upside down. She broke up with her boyfriend Sam when he proposed to her, lying to him about her own feelings. I’m not sure if I understand the reason why she couldn’t be with Sam any longer. She mentions that she loved Sam and still does, but she didn’t want to be looked at with compassion. The post-surgery recovery is not easy as she has to take too many drugs which tamper with her mind. She has become a recluse, afraid to go out, and on top of that, her parents have separated. Jenna also wants to meet the family of the woman whose heart she now has, thus disobeying her counsellor. I imagine that this encounter will bring problems. My idea is strengthened when her mother takes Jenna to something called a masonic hall, and they have a session with a psychic. The psychic can feel two different energies within Jenna, and when she takes her hands, Jenna feels something strange. She blacks out for a bit and feels terrified. The psychic tells her she needs to hear the voice inside her and she advises her to be careful. I wonder what this means. Maybe the woman whose heart is beating in her chest now was murdered? So meeting her family could endanger her safety.
Powerful start. I didn’t know what the gift of the title referred to, but not it is clear that the gift is her new heart. It is strange that after surviving and being alive, Jenna doesn’t feel more buoyed up and thankful to life. I can sense something almost tragic in her behaviour and feelings.