Audiobook Review: Cold Hands, Warm Heart by Jill Wolfson

Audiobook Review: Cold Hands, Warm Heart by Jill WolfsonCold Hands, Warm Heart by Jill Wolfson
Narrator: Evan Greenberg, Luci Christian Bell
Length: 5 hrs, 17 mins
Published by Audible on June 11, 2013
Genres: Contemporary
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
AmazonThe Book DepositoryAudible

Dani was born with her heart on the wrong side of her body. In her 15 years of life, she’s had more doctor’s appointments, X-rays, and tests, and eaten more green hospital Jell-O than she cares to think about. Fourteen-year-old Amanda is a competitive gymnast, her body a small package of sleek muscles, in perfect health. The two girls don’t know each other, don’t go to the same school, don’t have any friends in common. But their lives are about to collide.

Acclaimed author Jill Wolfson tackles this fascinating story with her trademark honesty and wit.

When I stumbled across Cold Hands, Warm Heart, I was shocked to see it was a recent title. I mean, I spend a LOT of time researching new books and there aren’t many YA books that miss my notice. Not only that, but NONE of my Goodreads friends has read it. Clearly, this book didn’t get enough marketing. Anyway, though it’s not quite my usual thing, I’m glad I decided to give this totally unfamiliar audiobook a shot.

Cold Hands, Warm Heart really stands out in terms of plot from the bulk of YA offerings. Reason one is that it’s really not a romance, though there is one. The storytelling is pretty unique, because the opening chapter is about a girl who dies at the end of it. At first, I was disappointed when that happened, because Lauren is a gymnast, and I’ve been wanting a YA novel about gymnastics. However, the story then becomes one about organ donation, which isn’t something I’ve seen dealt with much.

The story takes place in third person, with interspersed letters and notes. Predominantly, the narration focuses on two characters: Dani, the girl who receives Lauren’s heart, and Tyler, Lauren’s brother. Through that lens, Wolfson is able to show both sides of the transplant process, the donor family’s and the recipient’s.

Normally, I wouldn’t be into something that sounds like such a tearjerker, but I think Wolfson actually did a really nice job with the subject matter. Though some of it was quite heartstring-tugging, it was mostly in a really hopeful, inspirational way, getting to see what the organ donation meant to the people who received those organs. Plus, the voices of both Dani and Tyler aren’t of a maudlin sort, so there’s a sort of humor and liveliness through it all.

The little romance between Dani and the boy in the neighboring hospital room waiting for a liver was pretty adorable. See, it totally appealed to me being incredibly sick of all of the model perfect love interests. They’re both seriously ill, so they’re not looking particularly good. Even when they’re healthier, they’ve still got side effects from medicine. Dani, for instance, has chipmunk cheeks and way more hair than any teenage girl wants on her person. It’s not swoony by any means, but it’s a cute little flirtation between young teens.

Having listened to it, I can’t make any firm comments on the writing, but I wasn’t especially impressed by it. Not bad, but not great either. Similarly, the characters were okay, but not quite as lifelike and realistic as pushes a book from liked to seriously impressed or LOVED.

The other drawback was from the audio format. While I actually really liked the narration that Bell did, every time Greenberg narrated a section, I was waiting impatiently for the POV to switch back to a female character, so his part would be done. He’s not a bad narrator, but I don’t think he was a good fit for the role he played. Since he was mostly narrating Tyler a teen, his mature adult male voice really didn’t suit it, and didn’t dovetail well with Bell’s youthful sound.

All told, Cold Hands, Warm Heart is a quick read and a good choice for readers who want something outside of the status quo. I really enjoyed getting to learn more about organ donation and that whole system.

Tl;dr – Book in a GIFfy:

just trying to keep from dying

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