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In a Heartbeat Kindle Edition

4.5 out of 5 stars 126 customer reviews

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Length: 223 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Age Level: 12 and up Grade Level: 7 - 12

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Ellsworth’s dual narrative explores the large and small ways medical technology forever intertwines the lives of two strangers. When 16-year-old Eagan, a figure skater with her sights on the Olympics, dies in a fall on the ice, 14-year-old Amelia receives the heart transplant that she and her family have been desperately awaiting. Trapped in a foggy limbo, Eagan must relive the defining moments of her painfully short existence before she can cross over to the hereafter. In alternating chapters, Amelia grapples with conflicting feelings over her new heart, and inexplicable changes in her post-op personality drive her to seek out her anonymous donor’s family for answers. Ellsworth’s dramatic story of loss and second chances is deftly tempered by its candid teen narration and light touches of mystery and romance, making it a highly satisfying read, especially for fans of the novels of Lurlene McDaniel and the recent Cold Hands, Warm Heart (2009), by Jill Wolfson. Grades 8-12. --Kristen McKulski


Ellsworth's dramatic story of loss and second chances is deftly tempered by its candid teen narration and light touches of mystery and romance... a highly satisfying read. Booklist Readers will likely come away teary eyed and inspired. Publishers Weekly

Product Details

  • File Size: 634 KB
  • Print Length: 223 pages
  • Publisher: Walker Childrens; 1 edition (August 10, 2010)
  • Publication Date: August 10, 2010
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00413PHTG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #283,189 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Loretta earned a master's degree in Writing for Children from Hamline University. She's the author of four books: THE SHROUDING WOMAN, a Rebecca Caudill nominee; IN SEARCH OF MOCKINGBIRD, which won the Midwest Bookseller's Choice Honor Award, was a Teen's Top Ten finalist, was an IRA Notable, and was named to the New York Library's List of Books for the Teen Age; IN A HEARTBEAT, which was named a spring Midwest Connection's Pick and an ALA Notable; and her most recent book, UNFORGETTABLE, which is a Kirkus Pick of the Month.
A former Spanish teacher, she lives with her family in Minnesota. Visit her website at:

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Olympic-caliber figure skater Eagan mis-times her jump and In a Heartbeat, her life is over. Homebound Amelia draws horses and uses a lift chair to move around her house, and In a Heartbeat, Amelia has a chance at life again. In a fit of rebellion - and In a Heartbeat - sixteen year-old Eagan checked the "organ donor" box on her brand new-license and the lives and hopes of two Midwestern families are changed forever. When fourteen-year-old Amelia starts becoming a snarky sassy teen, with characteristics of her donor's personality, she is driven to discover who her donor was.

This is a tender young adult story of dreams, hope and discovery. It was painful to read the tense relationship between sixteen year-old Eagan and her mother. Eagan's mother push-push-pushes Eagan to skate her best, as if skating's all that matters. Eagan's mother's loneliness and the desperate way she won't let her daughter settle for mediocrity remind me as a parent not to let my dreams for my kids interfere in their dreams. This book made me recognize the value (and blessing) of ordinary.

The book opens after Eagan has died, but not since "The Lovely Bones" has a dead character been such an active vital voice. I think this book should be required reading for all new teen drivers, as well.
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Format: Hardcover
A half an inch changed Eagan's life, but a half an inch saved Amelia's.

In a Heartbeat by Loretta Ellsworth tells us the interwoven stories of two girls whose lives change in a matter of microseconds. Told through alternating perspectives and time frames, we learn about the horrible heart condition that has impacted Amelia's life forever and about the passion for ice skating that ultimately takes Eagan's life.

Ellsworth's prose is lovely and fluid, and she offers us unique insights into the lives of two very different characters. Eagan's passion for ice skating is well-delivered, as is her rocky relationship with her mother. Postmortem, we see Eagan interact with her present self in the afterlife and her past life on Earth. The dual perspective helps push the plot forward, and I quite enjoyed the person that Eagan runs into while in the afterlife. I don't think it's ever made explicit who Miki is, but as a reader, I picked up on that quickly and found it a nice touch.

As for Amelia, her story is told entirely from the present perspective. I must admit to never feeling much connected to her, as I found she didn't seem to have many interests or passions in the manner that Eagan did. She'd been sick for a long time, but that didn't seem to me enough to make her a fully realized character. Near the end of the story, Amelia chooses to take a trip from Minneapolis to Milwaukee with a guy she met at the hospital, and for me, this entire sequence didn't make sense to who I thought Amelia was. A little further growth in her would have helped me feel more attached to her.

This is a book for fans of medical stories. You know who you are, and you know exactly who you can sell this title to if you're not a fan yourself.
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Format: Hardcover
I really connected with this story. It felt powerful and compelling. It talks about the connection that can exist between a heart transplant patient and the donor and also, about how little we appreciate what we have. I really liked the alternating points of view of the two girls. I also liked that the after-world or the in-between world was not really relevant, just given.

I think that what I liked the most was actually the subject. I had never read about organ donations before. I had never given much thought into how it must feel to have someone else's organ inside you. And this book made me think a lot about it. I could feel my heart aching in some parts.

The characters were really well done. I think Eagan's character was really interesting, her attitude and temper felt incredibly real. Plus, I really like the cover. Overall, if you enjoy realistic fiction and exploring interesting subjects this is a great read for you.
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Format: Hardcover
This book was an interesting read for me. It was different than my usual read or just usual genre I should say. It is told from Amelia and Eagan's POV. Thankfully it is set up clearly so that you know when the POV's change.

Amelia is the recipient of a heart transplant. After the surgery she finds that she feels different. It isn't just that she has a new heart but she feels like she can feel who it belonged to. She takes on behavior traits of the person whose heart she now has and decides that she has to see the family of the one that died for her. Amelia didn't necessarily feel like it was something that she had to do for herself but something that she HAD to do for the girl that died.

I felt like I got more of Eagan's journey in a way. She had to deal with the fact that she is dead and there was no way to change that. She had flashbacks to things leading up to her death. She did have a little girl that helped her through her journey that she named Miki. (SPOILER: In one memory Eagan finds a box with pictures of when she was younger and it shows her mother as being pregnant and yet Eagan is an only child, meaning her mother lost the baby. Eagan kept feeling like something was familiar about Miki so I'm wondering if she is the little sister that her mother lost.)

In the end both Eagan and Amelia were able to help Eagan's mother move on. The day of Eagan's death Amelia's mother was trying to tell her that she was pregnant so it was a good thing for them to be able to help her to move on.

Overall I really liked this book. I really liked the ending because it was sweet. In Amelia's first chapter you learn about when she was first put on the donor's list. She talked about how she felt.
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