All The Books I Can Read

1 girl….2 many books!

Review: The Gift Of Life by Josephine Moon

on April 15, 2019

The Gift Of Life 
Josephine Moon
Penguin Random House AUS
2019, 384p
Copy courtesy of the publisher

Blurb {from the publisher/Goodreads.com}:

You’ve been given the gift of life, now go live it.

Gabby McPhee is the owner of The Tin Man, a chic new cafe and coffee roasting house in Melbourne. The struggles of her recent heart transplant are behind her and life is looking up – until a mysterious customer appears in the cafe, convinced that Gabby has her deceased husband’s heart beating inside her chest.

Krystal Arthur is a bereaved widow, struggling to hold herself and her two young boys together since Evan’s death, and plagued by unanswered questions. Why was her husband in another city the night he died? And why won’t his spirit rest?

Krystal is convinced that Gabby holds the clues she needs to move towards a brighter future. Gabby needs Krystal to help her let go of her troubled past. The two women must come together to try to unlock the secrets in Evan’s heart in order to set free their own.

I was intrigued by the premise of this book when I read the blurb because I think it presents an interesting ethical question as well as tapping into the heightened emotions of organ donation. And there were elements of this book that I enjoyed, however I think that your mileage may vary depending on just how much you are willing to delve into something that presents organ donation as much more than just a physical transaction.

Gabby received a heart transplant 2 years ago and all has gone well. She’s opened a new business, a coffee shop in Melbourne and one of the things I did really enjoy about this book was Gabby’s devotion to coffee and her shop, to the point where she employs a roaster to roast all their blends and offerings on site. I love coffee but I’m not what you’d call a coffee snob – I can’t pick notes and flavours and I don’t know my single origin Peruvian from my Kenyan and Ethiopian blends. I just know what I like and there are plenty of great cafes where I live out here on the outskirts of Melbourne to get my fix. Melbourne really is truly devoted to its coffee and I think that definitely came through – to the point where Gabby’s kids were becoming aficionados, her oldest learning latte art and even the younger ones indulging in weak, milky coffees.

Gabby’s world is turned upside down when she accidentally gives away a bit more than she should in an interview which leads Krystal Arthur to her shop, convinced that the heart that now beats inside Gabby is from her husband, who was killed in an accident in Sydney. Apparently there are protocols around revealing the exact time a transplant is received, presumably to prevent families of the bereaved being sure who received their loved one’s organ and I can honestly see the wisdom in that. It’s a part of someone people knew and loved, that now keeps someone else alive. It would be tempting to befriend them to keep close to that piece…..or perhaps even air grievances that the recipient is alive but the donor is no longer. And Gabby and Krystal’s interactions are tested when Gabby realises Krystal’s true feelings about the donation. The decision to donate organs can be made by the next of kin if the person isn’t a stated organ donor and it’s very difficult to be in the right state of mind to make that decision for someone, because it means that they’re basically brain dead and being kept alive by machines. It’s the sort of decision that you can make and regret, either way and there are probably a lot of complicated feelings revolving around it. It’s not a decision I’d feel comfortable making for someone if I wasn’t 100% on their feelings on it either.

I’m a more practical than spiritual person so for me, this book was kind of a step too far in what a donor can share with the recipient. I know there are plenty of stories – people who wake up after receiving an organ transplant to realise they crave hamburgers when they were vegan before the operation or things similar to that. I think that probably some weird and unexplainable things do happen – but being able to witness whole scenes from the donor’s life was kind of too big a leap for me and Gabby basically becomes this detective using the memories she’s unlocking through the heart transplant (which seem to be mostly triggered by the arrival of Krystal in her life, because apparently her heart can hear her or sense she’s there, or however it’s explained) to solve just precisely how and why Krystal’s husband was killed. It suddenly became this big mystery about Krystal’s husband’s death and his family and it felt a bit of a swerve, like this was not what I was expecting and to be honest, I wasn’t particularly engaged with that part of it. I was more interested in what was going on with Gabby’s husband, who she co-parents with, but who has become increasingly disinterested in sharing the load. I felt as though that was quite an interesting situation and it could’ve been much more in depth than it was and the reveal was a bit lacklustre and lacking in the sort of impact. Perhaps because he’d spent most of the book doing as little as possible and was a character that inspired more irritation than sympathy until an abrupt about face that I felt needed a lot more exploration.

There were some interesting ideas here and some things that I enjoyed seeing explored but ultimately I felt that the direction things went in, just wasn’t for me personally and I found it a bit distracting from the things I was enjoying. There were a few elements that I felt could’ve benefited from more time spent on them (and some, probably, with less). Ultimately it was okay, but I didn’t love it.

6/10

Book #52 of 2019


The Gift Of Life is the 24th book read for the Australian Women Writers Challenge 2019

 

 


One response to “Review: The Gift Of Life by Josephine Moon

  1. […] The Gift Of Life by Josephine Moon. My review. […]

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