5 February 2017

Book Review: The Legacy of Lucy Harte by Emma Heatherington

"‘Sometimes time is all we have with the people we love the most. I ask you to slow down in life. To take your time, but don’t waste it….’

Maggie O'Hara knows better than most that life can change in a heartbeat. Eighteen years ago she was given the most precious gift- a second-hand heart, and a second chance at life.

Always thankful, Maggie has never forgotten Lucy Harte – the little girl that saved her life. But as Maggie's own life begins to fall apart, and her heart is broken in love, she loses sight of everything she has to live for…

Until an unexpected letter changes everything and brings Maggie back into the life of Lucy Harte – and a chance for Maggie to get her life back on track once more.

Lucy's final gift to Maggie is much more than the heart that beats inside her. It's a legacy that Maggie must learn to live by. A chance to make her heart skip a beat with every new discovery she makes; a promise to live, laugh, fall in love and heal her broken heart for good.

Because as the keeper of a borrowed heart, Maggie's time is more precious than most and she must make every cherished second count…"

Rating: 5/5

I was really excited when I managed to get a review copy of this book on my Kindle from Netgalley. I had heard so many good things about it, and wanted to find out for myself if it would be able to live up to the hype. I actually commend Emma Heatherington for choosing to write about such an emotive topic, one we don't see covered nearly enough in fiction of any kind - organ donation. I am on the Organ Donation Register myself, but too often you see in the news people dying because they couldn't get a much needed transplant. In my opinion, once I'm dead, I'm dead, and if my organs can help to make someone else's life better, then they are welcome to them. This book tackles the issue of how someone receiving a donated organ affects them, and it makes for wonderful reading.

When she was a teenager, Maggie received the gift of life from a young donor called Lucy Harte, who donated her own heart after her untimely death. Since then, Maggie has felt beholden to the young woman whose organ she received, thanking her every day for the gift that she has given. After a run of bad luck, and feeling like she won't ever feel happy again, Maggie decides to do the unthinkable, and find out more about the young woman who donated her heart to her. Maggie ends up finding out more than she ever believed, and decides its time to turn her life around, and help live out Lucy Harte's legacy. Maggie is very aware that her borrowed heart won't last forever, and is determined to make the most out of every minute.

As you can probably tell from the idea of the story, this is a very emotive book, and by the end, I was sobbing my heart out. It was so powerful in so many ways - sad, uplifting, inspiring - all of these emotions flooded through me as I read, and I honestly did not want to put it down because I was desperate to reach the end and find out what was going to happen. I loved the character of Maggie. Yes, she was flawed, she probably drank too much, didn't see the good things in life nearly as much as she could have, but once the story progresses and we find out more about her and her past, it becomes a bit clearer why she always looks on the bleaker side of life. Her relationship with her family is a bit strained, especially with her older brother, and it makes for a quite unhappy Maggie.

Not a huge amount of detail is gone into about why Maggie needed a heart transplant, but it wasn't actually needed. After all, this is about living life to the full, and what happens post-transplant, so the lack of detail wasn't a problem for me. Maggie finding out more about her donor was a wonderful story arc, although I can't imagine how I would have felt if I were in these characters's shoes. Emma Heatherington has clearly done her research here though, because she puts across the emotions of these characters so very well, you can really imagine how they are feeling, and the conflicting emotions that must be coursing through their veins.

The idea of Maggie fulfilling Lucy's legacy was wonderful, and I really enjoyed all the adventures that Maggie went on thanks to this pursuit. In fact, it opens Maggie's eyes to how wonderful the world, family and friendship can really be. I especially enjoyed the last third of the book set in France, it was lovely to read, and helped the book meander to its inevitable conclusion. Everything about this book was a joy - be prepared to read it with a box of tissues though, because you are going to need them! This is most certainly a thought-provoking read, especially if you aren't on the organ donation register. We would all take an organ if we needed one, but would we all donate one? It's definitely food for thought. A wonderful, heart-wrenching, uplifting story that you simply MUST read.

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