Saturday, 16 June 2018

The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland (Contemporary fiction, 10E/10E)

 April 2018, Zaffre, 432 pages, Paperback, Review copy

Summary from Zaffre
Ailsa Rae is learning how to live.

She's only a few months past the heart transplant that – just in time – saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But . . .

Her relationship with her mother is at breaking point and she wants to find her father. Have her friends left her behind? She's felt so helpless for so long that she's let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. She barely knows where to start on her own.

Then there's Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn't make it. And now she's supposed to face all of this without him.

But her new heart is a bold heart.
She just needs to learn to listen to it . . .

Nayu's thoughts
I've always been intrigued by how transplant patients feel about their new organ(s), mostly because I watch the BBC drama Holby which has them, plus I've seen a few on hospital shows so reviewing this was an obvious choice for me. I liked how Ailsa delved back into her pre-transplant days which are emotional and perfectly capture the trials of living with a limited amount of energy. I loved the part where she talks about working out if she had the energy to do something and whether it was worth making herself a bit worse because I do this many times a day as part of my own non-transplant needing condition. 

I liked how her friend didn't have a successful transplant in the sense that all sides of transplants were addressed. There's the obvious change of having a chance at life which Ailsa has to get her head around, the grief and guilt of knowing someone didn't make it when she did, and the perhaps unthought of relationship change obetween Ailsa and her mum which brought more heartache then either of them expected. 

Seb's presence brought Ailsa a new perspective on life along with a lot of laughs and a few tears, it was a sweet relationship that Ailsa cohldn't have had before her transplant, and at times struggled with because of the negative aspects from being with someone the public see as a celebrity. The fact that Ailsa blogged was fun to read because I also blog, although I felt sad that she relied so much on other people's views of what she should do in life. I wished she had more self-confidence to make both big and small choices on her own without public opinion, but she slowly learns that through the mistakes she makes and advice her friends give. 

It's always good to remember that there people in worse situations that you, that ill and/or dying  people can have a bizarre sense of humor, and that everyone is trying to find their way in a complex world that Aisla can explore more fully with her new heart. 

Note: only by putting this post together have I just found out the reason why everything is so realistic is because Stephanie has dealt with cancer herself. Google her name to find information on this including a Youtube interview/clip thingymajig. 

Be sure to keep up to date with Stephanie on Twitter.

Suggested read
I've got two reads for you: another that touches on cancer is The Sisters Club by Lauren Baratz-Logsted (Contemporary Fiction, Fiction, 9/10E)

and for a true tale of fighting cancer with all the highs and lows check out Tea and Chemo by Jackie Buxton (Non-Fiction, Memoir, 9/10E, short 'n' sweet review) 

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