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In a Heartbeat
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In a Heartbeat

4.7 173
by Loretta Ellsworth

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For fans of Gabrielle Zevin and Lurlene McDaniel, In a Heartbeat explores the ties of family and the weight of regret when a mistake costs Eagan her life during a figure-skating competition. Left in the afterlife, reflecting on what she could have done differently, Eagan's still-beating heart is given to Amelia who has been waiting patiently for a transplant. When


For fans of Gabrielle Zevin and Lurlene McDaniel, In a Heartbeat explores the ties of family and the weight of regret when a mistake costs Eagan her life during a figure-skating competition. Left in the afterlife, reflecting on what she could have done differently, Eagan's still-beating heart is given to Amelia who has been waiting patiently for a transplant. When their thought, feelings, and dreams begin to mysteriously overlap, Amelia knows she must search for Eagan's family and find a way to give them all the closure they need move on.

Praise for In a Heartbeat:

"[A] dramatic story of loss and second chances. . . a highly satisfying read." -Booklist

"Readers will likely come away teary-eyed and inspired." -Publishers Weekly

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Jeanna Sciarrotta
When Amelia gets the phone call that a new heart is waiting for her, she knows that finally she will have a chance at a real life. Even in the excitement of the moment, however, she cannot help thinking about the person who had to die in order for her to live. Eagan was on the fast track to ice skating stardom when she cracks her head on the boards in a freak accident during a competition and is killed instantly. Now she is hovering in a gray area remembering events from her life. Will she really never see her boyfriend again? Will she never get a chance to make things right with her mom? Amelia's transplant goes well, but she is suddenly acting strangely; she is more outgoing, she snaps out at her parents, and she has an insatiable craving for grape lollipops. Is it possible that these are traits that she inherited from her donor? She is determined to find out. This heartwarming story delves into the side of organ donation that the medical field cannot prepare its recipients for: the possibility that the organ may just carry with it a memory of its previous owner. Though the topic of Loretta Ellsworth's novel is heavy, she tackles it with a simple and touching style that even younger readers will have no trouble enjoying. Reviewer: Jeanna Sciarrotta
VOYA - Leinne Young
In a Heartbeat is a very good book because it tells you what a heart patient needs to do when, and after, getting a heart transplant. I recommend this book; there's a little bit of cussing, but it's still good. This book is for middle school and high school. When I was reading it, I couldn't put it down—I needed to figure out what happens next. I had it taken away from me because I was reading it when I was supposed to be asleep! I love this book, and hopefully there is going to be another one. Reviewer: Leinne Young, Teen Reviewer
VOYA - Kat Kan
High school sophomore Eagan has been figure skating competitively for years and is on her way to a championship; lately she has found romance with Scott, a nice-guy football player. Then one half-inch error in her skating routine ends with her death. Amelia, another high school sophomore, has lived most of her life with a bad heart that's getting worse and desperately needs a transplant. When she gets her new heart, though, she starts experiencing personality changes and "remembers" things that were never a part of her life. With the help of newfound friend, Ari, she decides to seek out the family of her donor. Ellsworth tells the story in first-person for both girls in alternating chapters. Eagan finds herself in some sort of afterlife waiting room and relives memories of the last few months of her life as she tries to figure out where she is and what she should do; Amelia adjusts to life with a new, healthy heart and her odd memories. While Ellsworth's version of the afterlife will not make conservative Christians happy, most young teen girls won't care as they race through the book to learn what happens to the two very likeable characters. The idea of memory transfer through a heart transplant has been researched, but there's no scientific proof. Mild bad language and tame make-out scenes should not keep this book out of most middle schools. Reviewer: Kat Kan
Publishers Weekly
When the life of 16-year-old Eagan, an accomplished figure skater, comes to a sudden and tragic end, 14-year-old Amelia, who suffers from congestive heart failure, gains a chance for survival (“someone else had to die for me to live,” she thinks. “...when my family prayed for a new heart for me, we were praying for that to happen”). In straightforward, stirring prose that alternates between the girls' perspectives, Ellsworth (In Search of Mockingbird) explores the intimate and mysterious connection between organ donor and recipient. While Eagan finds herself in a foggy place where she has flashbacks of her past, Amelia, recovering from the transplant, feels different, like the new heart “was sitting in a space that wasn't quite right.” Her memories and dreams seem to belong to someone else at times, making her wonder whether she's inherited more than a vital organ. The book's climax—involving a meeting between Eagan's parents and Amelia—feels manufactured and somewhat rushed, but the emotions of the two protagonists are painstakingly fine-tuned. Readers will likely come away teary eyed and inspired to become organ donors themselves. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)
School Library Journal
Gr 6–8—Eagan is a serious figure skater and works tirelessly toward her goal of becoming a world champion. Her mother, a caricature of the pushy sports parent, invests all of her frustrated dreams in her daughter's talent, and the 16-year-old, resenting the pressure, clashes with her regularly. Then, one day, Eagan misjudges the landing on a triple lutz, hits her head against the side of the rink, and dies. Her strong, athletic heart ends up in the chest of 14-year-old Amelia, a victim of congestive heart failure. The physical and spiritual connection between the two girls, who narrate in alternating chapters, forms the basis of this sweet but somewhat melodramatic story. Things move in a strange direction as Amelia begins to feel her personality changing in response to Eagan's heart. Suddenly she is talking back to her mother and thinking about figure skating, as if Eagan's heart were somehow influencing her behavior and thoughts. Predictably, Amelia feels compelled to find out more about her donor and eventually gets in touch with Eagan's parents. The result is an unsatisfactory reconciliation between Eagan's mother and Eagan's ghost, through the medium of Amelia. It would be touching if it weren't so absurd.—Emma Burkhart, Springside School, Philadelphia, PA

Product Details

Walker & Company
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)
HL580L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Loretta Ellsworth is the author of two novels for young readers, both published by Henry Holt. THE SHROUDING WOMAN was named to the 2003 Amelia Bloomer Project List, was a CCBC Choice, and a 2005 Rebecca Caudill Nominee. IN SEARCH OF MOCKINGBIRD was nominated for Best Books for Young Adults, Teen's Top Ten, was a Midwest Bookseller's spring/summer pick, and won the 2007 Midwest Bookseller's Choice Award Honor Book for Children's Literature. It was also picked up by the Book-of-the-Month Club, was named to the 2008-09 Tayshas Texas List, is on the 2008 New York Library List of Teenage Books and is a 2008 Notable Children's Book in Language Arts.


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In a Heartbeat 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 173 reviews.
Jenn_Lynn More than 1 year ago
When I 1st started reading the beloved book, In A Heartbeat, I thought it was going to be a predictable book that wasnt worth my money. Then about half way through the book, it really struck me. I told all my friends about the book and they ALL want to read it, even the guys do! And they NEVER read! In that one chapter, when Egean checks off she wants to be an organ doner when she gets her drivers licence, it got me curious. I checked up online about it, and just since last week, 107,028 people are on the wating list on getting a transplant. Only about 2,000 people got lucky and had a second chance of life. AND get this; ONE person can save up to EIGHT lives! Now I know a lot of people are thinking, "Yeah right, like I'm going to give up my body to someone I dont even know" or "I dont want to be a recycled person!" But really, if you die, all your body is gonna do is gather up dust and so on.. Why not give your perfectly fine organs to a person who wants a second chance of life. Be kind, and think outside the box. Think this, if you were in the hospital bed from a accident and just found out that you could have less than a month er so to live, wouldnt you want to get a new whatever you need transplanted so you can have another chance? Go back to normal? In A Heartbeat is an amazing book that I will always remember. I love it for the fact that I can read different character's minds and what they are doing when they arnt together. When I get the book back from the long list of friends that want to read it, I just might reread it. It's that good. I promise. I couldnt find the right spot to stop and do things, so therefore, I couldnt put it down. Enjoy :]
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im 12 and i loved this book. It can be a little sad but not to the point where you are crying. This was my first nook book and ni regrets on buying it. I like how every chapter is from a different perspective. Love it and trust me it's worth it ;)
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing! I give it a 5 out of 5 star review. Trust me, if you dont get this you are bascily missing out on life. I just love how the book tells you about two different perspectives from two different girls but the story is still connected. GET THIS BOOK NOW OR ILL BUY IT FOR YOU! Some things just happen in a heartbeat. Beawere.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In a Heartbeat, by Loretta Ellsworth, is an amazing book.It is filled with infinite possibility, and you'll never want to put it down. The possibility of a second chance will leave you curious and yearning to know more. All the characters are so well-described and realistic, that you'll feel like you know them yourselves. When Eagan makes a small mistake that costs her her life in a figure skating routine, Amelia receives her heart. But, Eagan isn't gone completely. She still relives vivid memories through her still-beating heart. Eagan wants to move on and accept her death, but can't until she resolves unsettled issues with her mother. Eagan is trapped. Readers can learn a lot from this story. It made me realize that life is short, and and you should try to enjoy every moment while you can. Eagan always had a good life, but her bitter relationship with her mother made her forget it at times.Things for her seemed worse than they really were. This was definitely an excellent book. I liked that it changed point-of view often so that it was more interesting. The ending was brilliant. It almost made you wish things had had happened differently, but you know that's how it would've happened in real life.I fell in love with the characters, because they seemed so real that I felt like I knew them. I give In a Heartbeat four out of five stars.ook was so great that I look forward to reading the sequel. I recommend this to anyone who is fascinated by heart transplants, and how they affect others. This is a "must-read" for teenagers everywhere.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have the actual copy of the book too and i sent in my room to get something, i saw the book sitting there, picked it up,read the first chapter, which is only one or two pages, i was hooked. This is the best book i have read in a reallh long time and im no where near the end of the book. Oh well!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Varry good buy it u wont be ashamed
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This story was one of my favorites..ever. if you are reading this, go and buy this book. You wont regret it at all.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I jut started to read this book and i am soooooooo interested in it!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is AWSOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
OMG! This is just about one of the best books i ever read. It can get sad at points but not to the point where you start crying. It goes baack and forth between two poits of views. This book with will make you think a lot. I would totally recomend this book its amazing,
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am 11 and i cryed when I read the begging till the end. It is so detailed that I felt so sad.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wwhen i started to tead this book, i couldnt put it down! I recomendd this to everyone.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I LOVED this book soooooo much!!!!!! It was soo touching and an AMAZING story!!! I can't even put in to words how AMAZING and how much I LOVED this book!!!!!!! You HAVE to read this book!!!!!!!!! I recommend this to everyone who wants to read an AMAZING book!!!!!! : )
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is definitly in my top five favovites. My first three is obviously The Hunger Games Trilogy. In a Heartbeat is my fourth. I would highly recomend this book to anyone who likes a sad but happy story if you know ehat i mean.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I tried to get into the book but it was so slow! I wanted to like it but i just couldnt get in to it. Im sure its good but just a slow read for me.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awwwww. I wuv wis book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book makes me relize that you have to enjoy lifes gifts for what they are and live every day like you may not ever see the sun again. We could all die at any time so you have to enjoy the little things. Thanks for the book!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is amazing!! I could never put it down!! GET THIS BOOK I PROMISE YOU WILL NOT REGRET IT!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is the best book ever even if ur younger than 11 im 11 but i read it when i was 9 yrs. Old at times it make u sad at other times it makes you laugh. Its a great book it makes me think how u should enjoy ur life while u have it. Also tellur family u lov them because if u dont ull regret it. My favorite book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When i read in a heartbeat i didnt want to stop it may be short but it cant be toped
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Thiswas a great book, but you shouldn't buy it here, you sould buy it at a schostalasic book fair. It is so much cheaper there!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I found this book at the book fair at nt school, i wanted to get it cuz i wanted 2 b a cardiologist. The summary interestd me, so i went a head & bought it. This book did NOT disappoint me, it was incredible, i luved it so much, i did my book report over it. At the end of my report people were allowed to ask questions, alot of the quesrions were "were did u get thar book". Even 2 of the most athletic, not- interested- in- girl- books guys seemed 2 be a little interested, concidering that both of them asked at least 2 questions. Even my teacher started reading it when i put mt book down :D. My point is, great book, worth ur money. Im already reading it for the SECOUND time, when im done im gonna look out for the book change of heart. U wont regret getting it, i promise, now my fave book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My friends read it said it was good. Im excited to read. Sounds sad tho :(
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this was an overall good book. Im in a book club and we had to read this book and i think its a bit innapropriate for an 11 year old book club.But i reccomend it to 14 or 15 year olds.There is a bit of cussing and sexuality and it was a little uncomfortable to read.
BookReviewsbyClare More than 1 year ago
Olympic-caliber figure skater Eagan mis-times her jump and In a Heartbeat, her life is over. Homebound Amelia draws horses and uses a lift chair to move around her house, and In a Heartbeat, Amelia has a chance at life again. In a fit of rebellion - and In a Heartbeat - sixteen year-old Eagan checked the "organ donor" box on her brand new-license and the lives and hopes of two Midwestern families are changed forever. When fourteen-year-old Amelia starts becoming a snarky sassy teen, with characteristics of her donor's personality, she is driven to discover who her donor was. This is a tender young adult story of dreams, hope and discovery. It was painful to read the tense relationship between sixteen year-old Eagan and her mother. Eagan's mother push-push-pushes Eagan to skate her best, as if skating's all that matters. Eagan's mother's loneliness and the desperate way she won't let her daughter settle for mediocrity remind me as a parent not to let my dreams for my kids interfere in their dreams. This book made me recognize the value (and blessing) of ordinary. The book opens after Eagan has died, but not since "The Lovely Bones" has a dead character been such an active vital voice. I think this book should be required reading for all new teen drivers, as well.