Tin Heart

Shivaun Plozza

Tin Heart
Penguin Books Australia
26 February 2018

Tin Heart

Shivaun Plozza

When Marlowe gets a heart transplant and a second chance at life, all she wants is to thank her donor’s family. Maybe then she can move on. Maybe then she’ll discover who she is if she’s no longer The Dying Girl.

But with a little brother who dresses like every day is Halloween, a vegan warrior for a mother and an all-out war with the hot butcher’s apprentice next door, Marlowe’s life is already pretty complicated. And her second chance is about to take an unexpected turna


At death’s door, Marlowe Jensen’s life is saved by the donation of a heart from a donor unknown to her. Since birth Marlowe’s life had been mired by ill-health due to her heart problems and the promise of a transplant has always been her only hope for longevity. Post-transplant, the struggle for survival feels just as urgent for Marlowe as she negotiates a new sense of self with a stranger’s heart beating in her body.

Marlowe is gripped by a compulsion to make contact with the donor’s family, not only out of a sense of gratitude but also to find meaning in a survival that rested on the crisis of someone else’s loss. All she knows about her donor is that he was a young man who died in a fatal car accident. After sending many impassioned letters to the donor’s family, Marlowe receives notice that the grieving family do not want to be contacted. For Marlowe, her overwhelming compulsion to connect can’t be denied. She scours the internet for information and finds a link to the donor’s sister Carmen and then plans, surreptitiously, to meet with her.

But this is a connection built on deception and carries with it great emotional risk. People could get really hurt. The friendship and connection that evolves helps ground Marlowe and settle the nervous self-negating banter in her mind. But there are yet other complexities at play. Marlowe struggles for self-determination and rebels against her vegan, health-conscious, controlling, over-zealous mother whose fear of losing her daughter has made her overprotective and smothering. And how will her mother ever reconcile with Marlowe’s love interest, the butcher’s son next door – a boy who should come with a warning sticker about adorableness overload? Tin Heart is a divinely chaotic teen-drama full of emotional angst, crises and just the right amount of romantic tension.

Natalie Platten is the assistant manager and children’s book buyer at Readings Doncaster.

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