Today I have the pleasure of reviewing Danielle R. Mani’s latest YA novel The Divine Heart. Short and sweet with enough twists to keep the pages turning, this was the perfect pallet cleanser after some emotionally heavy reads.
Title: The Divine Heart
Author: Danielle R. Mani
Publisher: Crooked Cat Books
Publication Date: July 21, 2017
Genre: Fiction, YA Fiction, Paranormal Fantasy
Themes: Self Discovery, Romance, Family, Psychic Mediums, Supernatural
My Rating: 4/ 5
Seventeen-year-old Elle Collins spent most her life waiting for someone else to die…
When a heart donor is found, Elle awakes from surgery gifted with more than just a new heart—clairaudient messages and spiritual apparitions haunt her until she is convinced that she must be insane. Either that, or her donor is sending a message.
Desperate for answers the medical community can’t provide, Elle’s divination leads her to the family of her donor—a young girl named, Cas. With the help of her best friend, Rob—the guy who’s a testament that her new heart is capable of love, Elle must make sense of the clues Cas is sending. As pieces of Cas’s life and death emerge, Elle will discover that she and Cas share more than just a heart.
One of the things that I loved so much about this book was that it’s short. There are so many YA books out there that are simply behemoth, and it’s nice to come across something every now and then that manages to fit family drama, some teen romance, well developed characters, and even a supernatural mystery in less than 200 hundred pages. Now throw in the fact that the main character is a strong female and that if this book were made into a movie that it would totally pass the Bechdel Test and I’m completely sold! There’s so much packed in there that it’s difficult to go too in depth for a review without spoilers, but I’m going to give it a try.
I really loved Elle and her journey of self discovery, especially since the book starts out with her in an incredibly weak and vulnerable position. It was interesting to consider the perspective of growing up your entire life with the knowledge that you might die young, which I found appropriately uncomfortable, but in this case not nearly as tragic as something like The Fault in our Stars. However, I would have liked to know more about her specific heart condition and her recovery process, but appreciate forfeiting these details in favour introspection and a little bit of sleuthing.
And, to be completely honest, I ended up really enjoying how Elle’s infatuation with Scott was written – not only was I thrown back to my own fickle youth, but it is chalk full of teachable moments. Granted, there were a few things that made me think ‘Elle, are you making good choices?’, like driving when she might be having a heart attack and sneaking around post surgery without letting an emergency contact where she was going, but I’m willing to accept that a headstrong character is necessary for an interesting plot.
I also loved how supportive and non-judgemental Rob was, especially when faced with the revelation that Elle was experiencing paranormal occurrences after her surgery. The belief and enthusiasm expressed by Rob was both age appropriate and entirely believable, and I definitely become more interested in discovering who Cas was once Rob was on board. It was fun to have just enough of his back story to let the imagination run wild, and I found myself as desirous of details as Elle’s gossipy class mates.
Ultimately, this is a fun, engaging, and heartwarming read. Despite it’s short length and lighter feel, The Divine Heart demands attention to detail from it’s audience. I would absolutely recommend it to YA and adult readers alike as it has a little bit of something for everyone. This is an ideal book for school libraries looking to add to their YA collections as it carries a heavy punch without the hefty page count, and is sure to entice some of those more reluctant readers.
Many thanks to Danielle R. Mani and Crooked Cat Books for sending a copy (and swag!) in exchange for an honest review.