Second Hand Heart by Catherine Ryan Hyde

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The cover of this book promises that if you love Jodi Picoult, you will love this author. It was right. Catherine Ryan Hyde has the ability to make you live and breathe a book, feel the heartache and pain in the main characters and find yourself cheering them on and hoping and praying for a happy ending.

There are two main characters, Vida and Richard. Vida is a young woman who has a heart condition and is literally at death’s door. Richard’s wife dies in a car accident and he makes the spontaneous decision to donate her organs. Her corneas go to an old lady who is mentioned in passing and her heart goes to Vida.

On a whim, he decides to visit Vida once her operation has been done. On walking in, Vida sees him and knows him instinctively, experiencing a connection with him that transcends all understanding. As the days go by, she struggles to make him believe that there is a connection. That she loves him even though she doesn’t know him. The book explores quasi scientific theory that all the cells in our bodies retain memory and emotions and that although an organ can be transplanted, it comes with its previous owners memories and experiences. Vida finds herself remembering things she has never experienced herself and this remembering takes her on a journey where she retraces the donor’s memories. Richard tries to shut her out but finds himself inexplicably drawn to her. The book culminates with the two meeting at the spot that Richard first met his wife and connecting. But afterwards they both decide to let go and move on with their lives.


This book had an ending that although it made sense was still a disappointment. I kept on wishing Vida would get her happy ending with the man that she loves and for Richard to receive solace and comfort in her love. It made absolute sense though for them to part as their only connection really was the heart and we are not sure if that connection would have been sustainable in the long term.


I enjoyed reading this book and I would definitely look out for more of her work

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