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By: Louise Jensen
Publication Date: 12/16/2016
My Rating: 5 Stars ++
Top Books of 2016
Louise Jensen returns following her bestselling debut The Sister (2016) with an intense, edge-of-your-seat gripping thriller follow-up, centered around the fascinating topic of cellular memory. Organ donors may be doing than saving a life as portrayed in, THE GIFT!
Top 50 Books of 2016!
Cellular Memory (CMR) phenomenon, a term doctors, coined for the personality changes that people undergo after organ transplants. Jensen hooks you from page one to the final explosive ending!
Jenna desperately needed a heart transplant and was granted a heart. She and her boyfriend Sam had been ill with a virus. Sam finally got better, but she continued to be exhausted for the next few months. She had viral myocarditis which had aggressively attacked her heart function, and a transplant was her only option.
They found her a heart, a perfect match, and everyone was painfully aware the gift of life only came to fruition through another family’s grief.
Sam had wanted to marry her. She couldn’t. Everything was different now. Her life had changed drastically. The before and after. She had broken up with the man she is still in love with, (to be noble, giving him a better life and the future children which now she will never have). Her gifted heart, full of guilt. She had to lie saying she did not love him.
In addition, she also has many other problems. Jenna is seeing a therapist, Venessa every week. She is not always honest with the therapist nor her family. The fact that she almost died, makes everyone uncomfortable around her.
Jenna is having obsessive thoughts. Anxiety, paranoia, fear, and dreams. She has been taking tons of meds to ensure she will not reject her new heart. Not many people know she has located the donor’s family.
A PI located them and she has written to them. Of course, her therapist says this is unethical and not helping her condition. She encourages her to see this is as unhealthy. She cannot stop thinking about why she lived and this girl died.
Nearly six months ago, someone died so she could live. Her world seems small and she cannot catch her breath. She feels as though her world is shrinking and pulling her under, as well as her confidence. She does not feel safe. She is in a constant state of anxiety. She is preoccupied with thoughts of her donor. Also her donor’s memories.
Jenna continues to hear a woman screaming, brakes screeching. At first, she is unsure if it could be a possible side effect from her meds or if she had imagined the whole thing. She also feels guilt due to her Mum and Dad falling apart. Their marriage, their finances, and her relationship with Sam.
Her mom takes her to a Mind, Body, and Spirit psychic medium, to look at natural alternatives. Fiona tells her she is sensing two energies. A split. Two personalities battling.
Jenna feels and sees things. The recipient inherits the donor’s memories. Muddled images. Fragmented dreams. She thinks they are Callie’s memories. The girl who died so she could live. What is Callie trying to tell her?
Her heart pounds all the time. She sweats, she is fearful, full of anxiety, and soon comes to realize, she is sensing the fear of her donor. What happened to her? She feels as though she is going mad. She has to begin digging deeper without anyone knowing to try and find out what really happened to this gal, her donor, Callie. She feels as though she needs her to solve this mystery.
Between weird things happening at work, the feeling of someone following her, and her ongoing obsession of Callie, she gets a new short haircut and meets her donor’s family. Once she meets them, she knows more than ever, something is not right.
She will not rest until she has answers. She discovers Callie was dating Nathan. She arranges a chance meeting with him, interviews people Callie worked with and stays in touch with the family. She also discovers she had a sister, Sophie but appears she has disappeared.
The darkness, screaming, and pain continues. The ongoing sense of danger envelopes her every day. She cannot sleep. The thoughts will not let her rest. There is no peace.
In the meantime, she is having problems with her best friend Rachel, and a co-worker who she thinks is trying to get her job. Mistakes are made at work, and she is paranoid and starts second guessing herself and her own sanity. She is preoccupied with her thoughts at the vet clinic. Callie’s thoughts. A dental nurse.
For some reason, she begins craving strawberries and she does not even like strawberries. It was Callie’s favorite. Callie died in a car accident. Was it really an accident? Jenna fears this is not what happened. What about Nathan, Callie’s fiancé. They had been together for five years and he was protective. Controlling? Was he abusive? What is he hiding?
And where is Sophie, and her boyfriend, Owen? Everyone says she is in Spain with her boyfriend on holiday. Why hasn’t she been in touch with her family? What about the other guy at the pub, Neil, Chris, the guy at Callie’s work, and old phone found at work, and why did Callie leave the wedding reception that night? So many unanswered questions. What about Callie’s parents and uncle? What is going on at the veterinary clinic?
Jenna becomes, even more, obsessed making her entire kitchen a map of photos and timelines. She puts herself in the middle of danger, while all the time she is not taking care of herself. There is someone lurking leaving her messages to stop digging. Time is running out. Someone else is in danger. She has to help. For Callie's parents, Tom and Amanda. For herself.
All the while she continues to call Sam for help, plus there are other twists and complexities which involve others connected. With a race against time, will Jenna be able to solve the answers to the mystery behind Callie’s death before someone stops her? Will she and Sam find their way back to one another?
A heart-pounding gripping thriller, the author alternatives between Jenna and her fear, and Callie’s last days of desperation, trying to escape someone and some of her earlier pleasant memories. With many red herrings, the author keeps the reader spellbound, in total suspense until the explosive ending --with yet another twist, you do not see coming.
From drugs, money, blackmail, lies, secrets, to murder. Intense, vivid descriptions, and non-stop action!
What a fascinating topic! "The most common organ transplants include the cornea, kidney, and heart — with a heart transplant ranking the highest in the five-year post-transplant survival rate of 74.9 percent. The heart ultimately stores memories through combinatorial coding by nerve cells, which allows the sensory system to recognize smells, according to cellular memory theory."
I have also read of the same things occurring after a liver transplant that nine months afterward, the blood type had changed and the recipient acquired the immune system of the donor due to the stem cells of her new liver transferring over to her bone marrow.
Jensen has taken a well-researched topic and adds the psychological drama and suspense which fictionally reenacts the personalities of a donor and the recipient---totally frightening! Could you imagine having someone else’s memories haunting you, day and night?
Regardless of whether you believe in Cellular Memory Theory's validity, signing up to be an organ donor is a simple way to save someone's life! Up to 25 different organs and tissues can be donated for transplantation.
An ideal choice for book clubs or further discussions. (Guide included). THE GIFT would make a great movie! I actually liked this book better than the first, possibly due to being utterly fascinated by the heart. Book Trailer
Loved the author's Inspiring Story. Corby writer is hoping to be an inspiration to others.
A special thank you to Bookouture and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Cover Love!
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Movie: The minute I began reading this book, my mind went to the movie starring Will Smith Seven Pounds. Rent/Buy/Watch it from Amazon. I saw this back in 2008 when it came out. Chilling! Had to tweet the author to tell her to watch it.
Further reading: True story. Claire Sylvia who received a heart and lung transplant in the 1970’s from an eighteen- year old male donor who had been in a motorcycle accident. None of this information was known to Sylvia, who upon waking up claimed she had a new and intense craving for beer, chicken nuggets, and green peppers, all food she didn’t enjoy prior to the surgery. A change in food preferences is probably the most noted in heart transplant patients. Sylvia wrote a book about her experiences after learning the identity of her donor called A Change of Heart: A Memoir.
If you enjoy the donor subject matter, mixed with a fictional twist, also highly recommend Paul Cleave’s upcoming A Killer Harvest: A Thriller coming 8/17. A blind teenager receives new eyes through corneal donation and begins to see and feel memories that he believes belong to the previous owners—a detective and a serial killer.