Irreplaceable

Irreplaceable

by Stephen Lovely

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Overview

One windy April afternoon, a young woman bicycles alone along a stretch of Iowa highway. She's pedaling hard, hurrying to get home in time for dinner . . .

Alex Voormann is a cerebral thirty-year-old archaeologist married to the woman of his dreams--a beautiful, ambitious botanist named Isabel. When Isabel, an organ donor, is killed by a reckless driver, Alex reluctantly consents to donate her heart. Janet Corcoran is a young, headstrong mother of two, an art teacher at an inner-city school in Chicago. Sick with heart disease, she is on the waiting list for a transplant, but her chances are slim. She watches the Weather Channel, secretly praying for foul weather and car accidents, a miracle. The day Isabel dies, she gets her wish.

Flash forward a year. Janet sends Alex a long letter. She'd like to learn something about the woman who saved her life. Alex isn't interested in talking to the recipient of his dead wife's heart. Since Isabel's accident, he's become grief-stricken and bewildered. His closest companion is his mother-in-law, Bernice. They spend their nights reminiscing about Isabel and hiding out from the world. Meanwhile, a local blues musician named Jasper, the man responsible for Isabel's death, attempts to atone for his misdeed. Jasper is devastated by the knowledge that he destroyed a life but attracted to the idea that he was partially responsible for saving another life--Janet's. He sees her as his ultimate salvation.

Irreplaceable is the story of what happens after the transplant--not only to Alex but within the concentric circles of family that spiral outward from him and from Janet. Stephen Lovely takes us vividly inside the lives of these characters to reveal their true intentions--however misguided--and gives us a stunning debut novel of loss and love.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781401395490
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 02/03/2009
Sold by: Hachette Digital, Inc.
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
File size: 771 KB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Stephen Lovely is the Director of the Iowa Young Writer's Studio and a graduate of Iowa Writers' Workshop. He lives in Iowa City with his girlfriend, a photographer. They have 3 dogs and 3 cats. Stephen enjoys reading, gardening, opera, and--for some reason he's at a loss to explain--football.

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Irreplaceable 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 17 reviews.
cewilch More than 1 year ago
I'm not sure how I was drawn to this book and decided to bring it home with me - I still wonder about that, but sure am glad I did. This author has proven himself exceptionally gifted in humanizing the emotional story of a heart transplant and those it involved. The last chapter and epilogue totally undid me, as I had managed to keep it together during other difficult passages. Stephen Lovely has shown his potential and I cannot wait to read his next book.
24girl on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Racing her bicycle back home to beat a storm, Isabel Voormann accidentally veers too far into the middle of the lane and is struck by a truck driven by Jasper Klass. Isabel¿s husband Alex is now faced with an enormous decision. Isabel is an organ donor but the doctors still need his consent for the procedures. Reluctantly Alex agrees and Isabel¿s heart is given to Janet Corcoran, a married mother of two who teaches art in an inner-city Chicago school.During her recovery from the transplant Janet tried contacting Alex but her advances were always rebuffed. One year later Alex is slowly trying to get his life back in order but his mother-in-law, Bernice, keeps pushing the issue of Alex meeting or at least talking to Janet. Janet feels that talking to Alex would give her an opportunity to thank him and in the process absolve some of her own guilt over Isabel¿s death which is something her husband David doesn¿t understand. Over time David becomes more distant with Janet and the family and a recent rejection episode with the heart forces him further away.Meanwhile Jasper can¿t get over the fact that by ending one life he¿s saved another. Eventually his warped mind leads him to follow Alex to the point of stalking him in order to learn the identity of the heart recipient and things quickly tumble out of control in his life and in his decision making.Irreplaceable was a book filled with a lot of emotion but it didn¿t call out to me. I thought it was a good read but none of the characters made their way into my heart as books of this type usually do. I just didn¿t feel a connection nor was there anything in the book that left me thinking about the characters once I closed it. I wouldn¿t go so far as to say I didn¿t like the book because I did enjoy it and I do recommend it for anyone who loves books similar to Jodi Picoult¿s. The book was well researched and I¿m sure that it will touch people¿s lives in a deeper way than mine if they have personal experience with being a transplant recipient or the loved one of a recipient.
TrishNYC on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Isabel is riding home on her bicycle when she is struck by a car. She had elected to be an organ donor and once she was declared brain dead, her husband Alex gives permission for her organs to be harvested. The rest of the story takes place about a year after this event with Alex dealing with the intense grief and loneliness that he feels. He spends time with Isabel's mother Bernice and they both are a bit lost without Isabel. Into this dynamic comes Janet, the recipient of Isabel's heart. Despite the fact that the hospitals and all the organizations that handle the transplant process make it very difficult for donors and receivers to connect, Janet had managed to find Isabel's family and make contact. Bernice welcomes the idea of Janet and her efforts to contact the family while Alex is justifiably angry and reluctant for such a connection. Though he does not necessarily dislike Janet, he resents her efforts to insert herself into his life. Her life meant Isabel's death and that is a fact that he cannot overcome. He deeply feels the unfairness of the fact that Janet lives while Isabel had to die. Alex feels that it is selfish to have Janet continue to force contact with him. When Bernice chastises him for not welcoming Janet with open arms telling him that it would be easier for her to have not called, Alex disagrees and believes that it would have been harder for her not to have called. Its like she needs his forgiveness to feel better about the whole process. Personally, I agreed with Alex's assessment of the situation. I too felt that Janet imposed herself on Alex and did not give him enough time to heal. Alex lost the person he loved most in the world and a year later he is being emotionally blackmailed into associating with the woman who received her heart. Maybe Janet meant well but I found her actions selfish and very self centered. I felt sorry for Alex because he was not allowed his grief but instead made to feel like he was a traitor to his wife memory by not wanting to embrace the woman who was now carrying her heart.As much as I enjoyed this book, I failed to connect with any of the characters. I did not particularly like Janet though I empathized with her for the illness that made her require a new heart. I felt sorry for Bernice but I was disappointed with her role in forcing Alex to hurry his greiving process and make contact with Janet. And though I understood Alex's plight. I also failed to connect with him past my sorrow at his loss and my understanding of how he felt as regards Janet. I think that especially in the case of Alex I was unable to form a bond with him because of the overarching sense of loss, loneliness, sadness and grief that shrouded everyone in this novel. Everyone was sad (justifiably so) and I never really got to know them beyond this emotion. The book is very well written and is able to convey raw pain in a way that leaves you somewhat drained. It humanizes the organ donation process from being just another medical process to the real emotion felt on both sides. We see the way in which people who yesterday had ordinary lives today find themselves afflicted by disease or death of a loved one. For them its not business as usual, its devasting and wrenching. I really liked this book. Toward the end I felt that it began to drag a bit but all in all, it was a very good read.
momgee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
In Stephen Lovely's debut novel, he delves into the hearts and minds of his characters in the aftermath of the tragic death of a young botanist, Isabel. In the prologue, we meet Isabel riding her bicycle in a race to arrive home before a threatening storm breaks. The author does a wonderful job of building up the sense of urgency on Isabel's part. A truck cresting the hill does not see Isabel in time and the inevitable happens. The story goes back and forth in time and gives the reader deeper insight as to the circumstances before and after the accident.It also details in a very well written and detailed manner of the ripple effects to all directly involved and extending to their families. Alex, the grieving widower is having not only a hard time with the fact that he lost his wife so tragically, but the fact that she was an organ donor, never having been comfortable with the idea of pieces of his wife being parceled out to others. Isabel's mother, on the other hand, takes comfort in the fact that somewhere out there, Isabel's heart is still beating. This is really at the heart of the matter. Alex seems to resent the fact that he has suffered so much for someone else's gain. Add in the heart recipient and all the angst associated with being in need of an organ donation, the upset to normal family life and marriage, you have the recipe for a story of intense feelings. One more ingredient to stir the plot is the addition of the truck driver, who in order to assuage his guilt, begins to think the recipient should be grateful to him for the accident that took one life has now saved hers. Even though the donor program is supposed to be confidential, somehow the people involved learn of each other's existence and that is when the multitude of problems begin. I found this a really interesting novel seeing the perspective of the characters from both sides of the accident. It was almost hard for me to fathom why some of them felt the way they did, especially the involvement of the truck driver. Lovely managed to explore these feelings from all angles and they were revealed via flashback mode in a plot that was truly intriguing. Not only did I want to find out what happened to Alex but also the family members of the recipient. There were several spots that were a little wordy, especially describing the heart donor process, but other than that, the book totally held my attention and was extremely well written. I would recommended reading this novel for book clubs as I think there are numerous avenues of discussion that could be taken. I really liked the book and rate it 4****.
julyso on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Alex and Isabel are a young, happily married couple until one fateful day Isabel is hit by a truck. Isabel had wanted to be an organ donor and Alex reluctanly agrees. Her heart goes to Janet, a teacher and a married mother of two. Things get complicated when Janet wants to thank Alex and his mother-in-law. Alex is torn between hating this woman and wanting to be near what is left of Isabel. I felt a connection with Alex and really could relate to his pain. I cannot even imagine how conflicted a person would be in his situation. Lovely really does a great job of showing Alex's emotions and how complex they are. A really lovely book about life, love, and moving on.
MargaretdeBuhr on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Can't believe this is the author's first book. I loved the whole concept of looking and feeling the role of each character in the book. It was amazing the impact on each persons life a donor heart made. So many angles to the book with great depth!
caitemaire on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Organ transplants are quite different than other medical procedures, in that, except for the cases of live transplants, possible for some organs, when someone receives a transplant and a new chance for life, someone else has died. What is the cause of celebration for one family, is the result of a terrible tragedy for another. When someone receives a transplant, it is not the happy ending of the story, but just the beginning for all those involved. In Irreplaceable, we are presented with a view into both sides of the experience, those that lost someone they loved, and those that were saved from losing the one they love, someone on the verge of death. Actually, we get a glimpse of a third party as well, the man that caused the death and set it all in motion.The book opens with Isabel, out on the open road in rural Iowa, on her bicycle for the first ride after a long winter. The weather is starting to turn for the worse, getting windy, the sky getting gray, a ominous storm rolling in. A truck crests the hill; she, a little too far into the lane, is unseen by the driver...and for those that love her, a nightmare has begun. For others, a life has been saved from certain death. It is a life saving gift, but a gift with a price, for everyone involved.No, the transplant was in no way the end of the story.This is Mr. Lovely's first book and it is a very good one. His ability to capture the emotions of these different characters is skillful. He is able, on the one hand, to educate the reader about the whole issue of organ transplantation while on the other hand never losing sight of the very personal repercussions these decisions will have for all involved. As medical science becomes able to do more and more, we can never forget the human and emotional cost...because one day it may be someone we love, or ourselves, asked to pay that price.So just ignore the book cover, which I thought was very misrepresentative, pick up this book and I think you will be happy you did.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
CBcooks More than 1 year ago
I read this book because it was on the list for my book club. I found myself not being able to put it down and becoming completely engrossed in it! After reading the first couple of chapters I thought I had an idea of how the book was going to turn out but it wasn't that way at all! The characters were developed very well and there weren't so many that I had a hard time keeping track of who's who like I sometimes do. To top it off, the author came to our book club the night we discussed the book. If I hadn't read the book before I had met him, I definitely would have afterwards! Can't wait for his next one!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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RaeStar More than 1 year ago
Mr. Lovely must have experience with losing his soulmate. There are passages in this book that can only come from the heart of a grieving spouse or significant other. He is sensitive and compassionate. I found the idea of an organ recepient forming a relationship with the donor's family a little out there, but he explores the emotions of the characters and presents them as real. The "what if" aspect of the plot is thought provoking however, and that's a good thing!
donnareads911 More than 1 year ago
Poignant story of 2 families, and the hard decision of releasing your loved ones heart to another after a tragic accident. The donor's choice, but those that are left behind follow through with her wishes and the story unfolds. At times a bit slow, not over-sappy, and descriptive as well, almost graphically so, describing the surgical procedure. In the beginning, not so drawn to the characters but then they begin to grow on you. Truly didn't want the book to end but does so in quite a touching way. Maybe I will be a donor after all!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
momgee More than 1 year ago
In Stephen Lovely's debut novel, he delves into the hearts and minds of his characters in the aftermath of the tragic death of Isabel, a young botanist. In the prologue, we meet Isabel riding her bicycle in a race to arrive home before a threatening storm breaks. The author does a wonderful job of building up the sense of urgency on Isabel's part. A truck cresting the hill does not see her in time and the inevitable happens. The story goes back and forth in time and gives the reader deeper insight as to the circumstances before and after the accident.It also details in a very well written manner the ripple effects to all directly involved and extending to their families.

Alex, the grieving widower is having not only a hard time with the fact that he lost his wife so tragically, but the fact that she was an organ donor, never having been comfortable with the idea of pieces of his wife being parceled out to others. Isabel's mother, on the other hand, takes comfort in the fact that somewhere out there, Isabel's heart is still beating. This is really at the crux of the matter. Alex seems to resent the fact that he has suffered so much for someone else's gain. Add in the heart recipient and all the angst associated with being in need of an organ donation, the upset to normal family life and marriage, you have the recipe for a story of intense feelings. One more ingredient to stir the plot is the addition of the truck driver, who in order to assuage his guilt, begins to think the recipient should be grateful to him, for the accident that took one life has now saved hers. Even though the donor program is supposed to be confidential, somehow the people involved learn of each other's existence and that is when the multitude of complex problems begin.

I found this a really interesting novel seeing the perspective of the characters from both sides of the accident. It was very difficult for me to fathom why some of them felt the way they did, especially the involvement of the truck driver. Lovely managed to explore these feelings from all angles and they were revealed via flashback mode in a plot that was truly intriguing. Not only did I want to find out what happened to Alex but also the family members of the recipient. There were several spots that were a little wordy, especially describing the heart donor process, but other than that, the book totally held my attention and was extremely well written. I would recommended reading this novel for book clubs as I think there are numerous avenues of discussion that could be taken. I really liked the book and rate it 4****.
TrishNYC More than 1 year ago
Isabel is riding home on her bicycle when she is struck by a car. She had elected to be an organ donor and once she was declared brain dead, her husband Alex gives permission for her organs to be harvested. The rest of the story takes place about a year after this event with Alex dealing with the intense grief and loneliness that he feels. He spends time with Isabel's mother Bernice and they both are a bit lost without Isabel. Into this dynamic comes Janet, the recipient of Isabel's heart. Despite the fact that the hospitals and all the organizations that handle the transplant process make it very difficult for donors and receivers to connect, Janet had managed to find Isabel's family and makes contact.

Bernice welcomes the idea of Janet and her efforts to contact the family while Alex is justifiably angry and reluctant for such a connection. Though he does not necessarily dislike Janet, he resents her efforts to insert herself into his life. Her life meant Isabel's death and that is a fact that he cannot overcome. He deeply feels the unfairness of the fact that Janet lives while Isabel had to die. Alex feels that it is selfish to have Janet continue to force contact with him. When Bernice chastises him for not welcoming Janet with open arms telling him that it would be easier for her to have not called, Alex disagrees and believes that it would have been harder for her not to have called. Its like she needs his forgiveness to feel better about the whole process. Personally, I agreed with Alex's assessment of the situation. I too felt that Janet imposed herself on Alex and did not give him enough time to heal. Alex lost the person he loved most in the world and a year later he is being emotionally blackmailed into associating with the woman who received her heart. Maybe Janet meant well but I found her actions selfish and very self centered. I felt sorry for Alex because he was not allowed his grief but instead made to feel like he was a traitor to his wife's memory by not wanting to embrace the woman who was now carrying her heart.

As much as I enjoyed this book, I failed to connect with any of the characters. I did not particularly like Janet though I empathized with her for the illness that made her require a new heart. I felt sorry for Bernice but I was disappointed with her role in forcing Alex to hurry his greiving process and make contact with Janet. And though I understood Alex's plight, I also failed to connect with him past my sorrow at his loss and my understanding of how he felt as regards Janet. I think that especially in the case of Alex I was unable to form a bond with him because of the overarching sense of loss, loneliness, sadness and grief that shrouded everyone in this novel. Everyone was sad (justifiably so) and I never really got to know them beyond this emotion.

The book is very well written and is able to convey raw pain in a way that leaves you somewhat drained. It humanizes the organ donation process from being just another medical process to the real emotion felt on both sides. We see the way in which people who yesterday had ordinary lives today find themselves afflicted by disease or death of a loved one. For them its not business as usual, its devasting and wrenching. I really liked this book. Toward the end I felt that it began to drag a bit but all in all, it was a very good read.