Michael F. Stewart
Publication date: September 15th 2020
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
After his twin sister, Minnie, dies in an accident, Emmitt’s world goes sideways. He’s lost his best friend and it feels like the family is falling apart without her. But Minnie was an organ donor and Emmitt soon receives an anonymous thank you letter from one of the transplant recipients. Inspiration strikes, and he decides to try and put his sister back together, in spirit. He’s going to track down each organ recipient and film them to show his parents the results of Minnie’s selfless act and help them move on. But when each recipient falls short of his expectations and the star of his film, the girl who received his sister’s heart, refuses to meet him, Emmitt has to turn to extreme measures to find her. What he doesn’t know is that his “heart sister” is hiding an agonizing secret, one that could push Emmitt to the breaking point.
I received a free copy via Xpresso Book Tours for an honest review. What follows is my opinion and mine alone. There was no compensation made for this review.
You know the videos, the ones circulating in your social media feed, a grieving family member leans to a stranger’s chest, a stethoscope in their ears. They place the circle on the chest and listen. They listen to the heartbeat of their lost husband or son, mother or daughter, sister or brother. Tears start flowing from the organ recipient, the onlookers, the family, and you, the viewer. No one is dried eyed.
Reading this book was a bit like that. You see the process of grief and a young man trying to grapple and make sense of the loss of his twin. He tries to bring her to life in the best way he knows how: Film and Virtual Reality. In the process, he makes life-lasting connections and learns something about himself.
To say this book is a single-sitting read won’t give it justice, even though it easily is. It isn’t the length that makes it that way, it’s the emotion weaved into the prose. You feel with Emmitt. You laugh with Emmitt. And you may even cry for Emmitt. I didn’t want to put down this book. Not even for food and I love food.
Michael F. Stewart is a craftsman with his writing. Heart Sister is easily one of the best books I’ve read this year thus far. I was pulled into the narrative and I felt for the family. I wanted to help Emmitt find his organ siblings. The number of different people his sister helped through her donorship shows that every person is important. Every human being has the ability to be a hero and it isn’t just the donor who are the heroes. The family that is willing to make that sacrifice is as well.
This is a book everyone should read. If you aren’t an organ donor, it may change your mind. If you are, it only solidifies that one day you may end up helping someone and it doesn’t mean that your family would be without you completely.
Michael F. Stewart is an award-winning author of many books for young people in various genres, including Ray Vs. the Meaning of Life, which earned a Kirkus Star and won the Publishers Weekly’s Booklife Grand Prize. and Heart Sister (Summer/Fall 2020, Orca Books). Michael lives in Ottawa.