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Second Hand Heart [Kindle Edition]

Catherine Ryan Hyde
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (429 customer reviews)

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Book Description

“A fascinating premise and a lovely book. Highly recommended.” –Chicklittings

“A compelling, thoughtful read.” –Choice Magazine

By the bestselling author of DON'T LET ME GO and PAY IT FORWARD, SECOND HAND HEART is a devastating and unexpected story of love and loss—of learning to live for the first time, and learning to live all over again.

Vida is only 19, but she knows a lot about dying. Her weak heart has kept her on the edge of death her whole life. It hasn't been much of a life. Thanks to her overprotective mother, Vida's only friend is Esther, an elderly Holocaust survivor who lives upstairs. Vida's heart is finally about to give out, unless she can get a donor heart in time.

Richard is 36 and blissfully married, until he gets the call that his beloved wife has died in a car accident. His world falls to pieces. When Richard is invited to the hospital to meet the young woman who received his wife’s donor heart, he goes, even though he's entirely not ready for it.

Vida takes one look at Richard and feels she’s known and loved him all her life. Richard is horrified by her reaction and thinks Vida is just a sheltered and confused young woman.

As Vida and Richard struggle to define themselves in circumstances neither ever thought they'd face, both begin to wonder if it's possible that cellular memory, the idea that memories can be stored in individual cells, might actually be real. Could Vida's heart retain some of the love Richard's wife felt? Can a heart remember, at least for a time, on its own?

“A first-rate read! ... Second Hand Heart is a great book about surviving despite the odds” –Leah Graham, Chick Lit Reviews and News

Editorial Reviews


An extraordinary and unforgettable book - powerful, poignant and incredibly moving. I read the whole thing at a sitting, and absolutely loved it SUSAN LEWIS Compelling new book Woman's Own (****) ...powerful emotions are aroused. A compelling, thoughtful read Choice Magazine

About the Author

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the best-selling and award-winning author of 24 published and forthcoming books, including the acclaimed WHEN YOU WERE OLDER, DON'T LET ME GO, SECOND HAND HEART, WHEN I FOUND YOU. New Kindle editions of her backlist titles FUNERALS FOR HORSES, EARTHQUAKE WEATHER AND OTHER STORIES, ELECTRIC GOD, and WALTER'S PURPLE HEART are now available. Forthcoming frontlist titles are WALK ME HOME and WHERE WE BELONG. Her bestselling novel PAY IT FORWARD inspired the movie of the same name. The Richard and Judy Book Club, the UK's equivalent of the Oprah book club, launched LOVE IN THE PRESENT TENSE and subsequent novels onto the bestseller list in the UK. Learn much more about the author, maybe even more than you wanted to know, at

Product Details

  • File Size: 787 KB
  • Print Length: 422 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0055WY7O8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,692 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
37 of 39 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A first-rate read! June 22, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Nineteen year old Vida isn't like many girls her age. She can't go to school, doesn't have many friends, and can barely leave the house due to the fact her heart is failing and she desperately needs a transplant. When a heart becomes available, and the transplant is successful, Vida is determined to live life like never before. When Vida meets Richard, the man whose wife's heart now beats in Vida, she immediately falls in love with him but Richard dismisses her claims. How is it possible for Vida to love him when she doesn't even know him? Could it be that the heart she now has beating in her chest is remembering the love for him, is that even possible? As Vida learns to live life again properly, she can't shake the feeling that there's somewhere she has to go and visit. But where?

Catherine Ryan Hyde's books definitely fall into the `women's fiction' category than the `chick lit' category but I read both styles of books and after reading When I Found You, I knew I liked Catherine's style of writing. She's been compared to Jodi Picoult which is a strange one; one I disagree with in fact as I think she has her own writing style. Second Hand Heart, I'm sure you can guess, is about a second hand heart and what it means to have a heart that was someone else's. It's an interesting subject and is one I've never actually thought of before but Ryan Hyde presents a great argument as to whether or not it is possible for a heart to take over memories and things into a new donor.

What surprised me most about the book was how it was written. Instead of being written like a proper book, the book is actually written in the form of a journal. And while I was a little hesitant about that at first, what with the short chapters, I soon got used to it and begun to enjoy it.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Can a second hand heart bring two people together? June 21, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition
Second Hand Heart isn't just a love story, it addresses the subject of organ donation and transplantation as well as the theory of cellular memory (where the donor recipient takes on memories, habits, interests and tastes of the donor, that may have somehow been stored in the cells of the transplanted organ). While I don't usually go for a love story type of book, I'm all for organ donation (as I've let my family know) and I've heard of cellular memory, so I thought this might be interesting.

This book is written in journal format and each journal entry is a chapter. The first few chapters of the book are Vida's journal, then we get a few journal entries from Richard, before going back to Vida and it carries on like that. There's also a few emails, mainly between Richard and his mother-in-law, thrown into the mix. It may sound like it could get confusing, but it isn't and the story flows seamlessly between the two journals.

Much like Richard did, I found the character of Vida to come across as a bit childish for her age. However, after a while of thinking that, I came to remember that Vida had a different upbringing to most children. She was weak and spent most of her childhood at home with her mother, rather than out making friends etc. While I understood that, I did find her character to be a bit on the stalker-ish side too, in the way that she pursues Richard. Still, I found her to be a unique character (how many young girls have an elderly best friend?)

Despite having never lost a loved-one as close as Richard has, I can understand his need to hang on to the life-force of his wife. His mixed emotions and on-going grief are understandable for somebody in his situation.
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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
My thoughts: Return to Me with Minnie Driver and David Duchovny (which is about "a man who falls in love with the woman who received his wife's heart must decide which woman it is who holds his heart") is one of my favourite movies, so of course as soon as I saw what Second Hand Heart was about I knew I had to read it.

I was intrigued by Second Hand Heart' theme: cellular memory. That a person's life, memories are not only stored in their brain but in every organ and cell of their body, and the heart being one of the most important organs retains thus the deepest indentation or evidence of such memories.

Second Hand Heart is written through Vida's and Richard's journal entries/e-mails and while I felt such approach suited a teenager girl it was a bit harder to imagine a 36 year old man purging his innermost thoughts on paper.

Vida is a very sheltered 19 year old girl, who only starts living after her heart transplant. After the successful transplant the world opens up and she can finally step out and discover it. Yes, due to her very sheltered and inexperienced upbringing she is very naive and childish, but in an endearing way, and she is pure and honest. I loved how Catherine Ryan Hyde made her a layered character: that due to her previous sufferings and all she has gone through at such a young age she had a certain wisdom and objectivity to life, then on the other hand due to her inexperience of never having "stepped out" of her room and never having lived life, she also had a certain naivety and childishness. Vida was quite a unique and definitely interesting character.

Of course writing Richard must have been harder. He is the grieving husband who lost the love of his life. How can he grieve for his deceased wife yet be intrigued by this young girl?
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking story of cellular memory
However you feel about cellular memory, the concept that snippets of strong memories pass with a transplanted heart provides the basis for this intriguing story. Read more
Published 1 day ago by David N. Parker
4.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed the book
I enjoyed the book, but I prefer other books by Catherine Ryan Hyde. I did not care for the ending.
Published 3 days ago by Gertrude Muro
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable
This was a good story and gives one something to think about regarding transplants. It is very believable that a heart might remember things that happened in their previous life.
Published 5 days ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Well written book
I don't think I've read a book with better character development. I didn't particularly like some of the main characters portrayed in this book, which is unusual for me; I think... Read more
Published 5 days ago by Polly Johnson
3.0 out of 5 stars Very interesting book
Took a little while to get into this book but was well worth it. Very interesting insight into transplant clients and some of the thoughts they might be having
Published 6 days ago by LINDA hANSEN
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
This book will give you new insight into transplants and "cellular memory." It made me think.
Published 6 days ago by Cynthia
5.0 out of 5 stars Great a must read book
I love reading Catherine Ryan Hyde books. It is very hard to put down. Thank you. Now I get to read your next book.
Published 8 days ago by Rose
3.0 out of 5 stars I like all of Catherine Ryan Hyde's books - my favorite ...
I like all of Catherine Ryan Hyde's books - my favorite was "Take me with you" . This story of Second Hand Heart was good but I didn't enjoy it as much Ryan's other books
Published 8 days ago by L. Egan
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
I love this author. She writes about so many different life situations providing information and a perspective that carries a lot of meaning. I like her character development. Read more
Published 8 days ago by Christine
5.0 out of 5 stars I love all of Catherine Hyde's books
I love all of Catherine Hyde's books. Her character development is so realistic, it makes you feel you're inside the story.
Published 8 days ago by Joan
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More About the Author

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 27 published and forthcoming books, including TAKE ME WITH YOU, WHERE WE BELONG, WHEN I FOUND YOU, WALK ME HOME, SECOND HAND HEART, DON'T LET ME GO, and WHEN YOU WERE OLDER. New Kindle editions of her backlist titles FUNERALS FOR HORSES, EARTHQUAKE WEATHER AND OTHER STORIES, ELECTRIC GOD, and WALTER'S PURPLE HEART are now available. Also available is THE LONG, STEEP PATH: EVERYDAY INSPIRATION FROM THE AUTHOR OF PAY IT FORWARD, her first book-length creative nonfiction.

She has three new novels forthcoming from Lake Union/Amazon Publishing, including THE LANGUAGE OF HOOFBEATS in December of '14 and WORTHY in the summer of '15.

An avid hiker, traveler, and amateur photographer, she has just released her first book of photos, 365 DAYS OF GRATITUDE: PHOTOS FROM A BEAUTIFUL WORLD.

She is co-author, with publishing industry blogger Anne R. Allen, of HOW TO BE A WRITER IN THE E-AGE: A SELF-HELP GUIDE.

Her best-known novel, PAY IT FORWARD, was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries. The paperback was released in October 2000 by Pocket Books and quickly became a national bestseller. Simon & Schuster released PAY IT FORWARD: YOUNG READERS' EDITION in August of '14. It is suitable for kids as young as eight. A special anniversary edition of the original PAY IT FORWARD is forthcoming in December of '14

LOVE IN THE PRESENT TENSE enjoyed bestseller status in the UK, where it broke the top ten, spent five weeks on the bestseller lists, was reviewed on a major TV book club, and shortlisted for a Best Read of the Year award at the British Book Awards. Both BECOMING CHLOE and JUMPSTART THE WORLD were included on the ALA's Rainbow List, and JUMPSTART THE WORLD was a finalist for two Lambda Literary Awards. WHERE WE BELONG won two Rainbow Awards in 2013.

More than 50 of her short stories have been published in The Antioch Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, The Virginia Quarterly Review, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train and many other journals, and in the anthologies Santa Barbara Stories and California Shorts and the bestselling anthology Dog is my Co-Pilot. Her stories have been honored in the Raymond Carver Short Story Contest and the Tobias Wolff Award and nominated for Best American Short Stories, the O'Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize. Three have been cited in Best American Short Stories.

She is founder and former president (2000-2009) of the Pay It Forward Foundation. As a professional public speaker she has addressed the National Conference on Education, twice spoken at Cornell University, met with Americorps members at the White House and shared a dais with Bill Clinton.

For more information, please visit the author at

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