My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received an e-ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review
I absolutely loved Stephanie Butland’s last novel, “Lost for Words” (it was set in a bookshop so no prizes for guessing why it appealed to me so much) and when I saw her book available on Netgalley I couldn’t click request fast enough.
The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae follows Ailsa just a couple of months after the heart transplant she had been waiting for her whole life. We join Ailsa as she learns how to live, how to be an adult and how to navigate a life in which she suddenly has a future that involves more than hospital stays and dying.
I thought the premise to this book was really interesting. I’ve read a lot of books which focus on long term illness, but never a book which explores how somebody starts to rebuild their life once they have that operation they’ve been waiting for since birth. I don’t think I’d ever considered what it would be like for someone in that position, so used to waiting by the phone to hear of a possible organ and having people look after you as if you were a child, to suddenly be better and have to completely rebuild how they thought about themselves and develop some independence.
The book is written with the use of flashbacks to before the heart transplant and I enjoyed these glimpses into Ailsa’s previous life which helped to make me feel as if I knew both versions of Ailsa- with her old heart and with her new heart (which she names Apple).
I also really liked the use of Ailsa’s blog as a story telling device. It was in these sections that I felt Ailsa was being the most true to herself, and it added another layer to her personality.
The writing was completley addictive and I found myself swept into the story quickly. It was such a life affirming story and I really felt like I was with Ailsa as she experience new things and grabbed her new chance at life with both hands.
I absolutely loved the romantic storyline, but I also loved that having a boyfriend wasn’t Ailsa’s main priority and her career, hobbies, friends and family were much more her focus.
I would recommend this book to fans of Sophie Kinsella, Jojo Moyes and anybody who loves reading the equivalent of a hug in book form!