Girl meets boy…in a hospital. Not the most romantic of settings, but then Jill Wolfson’s Cold Hands, Warm Heart, which starts with the death of a 14-year-old girl, is not your usual young adult book.
After competitive gymnast Amanda dies unexpectedly during a gymnastics meet, 15-year-old Dani, who was born with her heart on the wrong side of her body, receives Amanda’s heart, bringing two lives - and two damaged families - together. Looking at the effects that organ transplantation has on the lives of all involved, Cold Hands, Warm Heart is a moving and ambitious novel. Dani’s struggles with the emotional and physical repercussions of her new heart are completely compelling, but it is the confusion and anger of Tyler, Amanda’s grieving brother, that is most heartbreaking.
As she embarks on her new life with her new heart, Dani, a funny and feisty narrator, also has to deal with the regular staples of teenage life - from tensions with her mother and insecurities about her appearance to a budding first romance with Milo, a regretful teenager who is awaiting a second liver transplant after abusing his first. Wolfson skilfully interweaves the lives of all those involved, and her ability to explore life’s big questions, whilst keeping the plot ticking along and the dialogue sharp makes this a brilliant and touching read.