The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland – 4.5*’s @under_blue_sky @BonnierZaffre #bookreview

Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae
Amazon Link 

Amazon Blurb

Ailsa Rae is learning how to live.

She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that – just in time – saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But . . .

Her relationship with her mother is at breaking point and she wants to find her father.
Have her friends left her behind?
And she’s felt so helpless for so long that she’s let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. She barely knows where to start on her own.

Then there’s Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn’t make it. And now she’s supposed to face all of this without him.

But her new heart is a bold heart. 

She just needs to learn to listen to it . . .


My Review

This is a heartwarming and uplifting book, though don’t be fooled, it has it’s darker moments. But then that’s life, a balance of light and shade, but happily the book is definitely running towards the light.

After a life waiting, and literally dying for a heart transplant, Ailsa has her new heart (nicknamed ‘Apple’). Sadly, her best friend, Lennox wasn’t so lucky, so Ailsa is determined to live life for both of them. The strange thing is, Ailsa initially has difficulty with the concept of living. She’s spent so long, never knowing how long she might live, that planning for the future and actually living fully is something she’s never really done. So it’s a scary world out there when you really have to engage fully and not hide behind the mask of illness. Illness gives you a get out clause, a reason to not always fully take part, but Ailsa has lost her safety net. Worse still, in trying to move forward, she’s also trying to cut the ties that bind her to her other safety net, her mother.

Ailsa has also used her blog to get her  through her illness (something I can identify with) and has also used it as a medium for making decisions. When she faces a choice or dilemma it becomes a question for her readers to vote on. But even that has to change now surely?

For the first time in her life, she’s looking at doing things on her own, running her flat, getting a job and pursuing new friendships and interests. Despite being 28 and having been to University, she has never really stood on her own two feet. Coincidentally it is her two feet, that introduce her to a new interest that will play a large part in helping her to move forward – a tango class. That combined with meeting another transplantee will prove a catalyst for change.

The story, both past and present, is interestingly told with the inclusion of  blog posts, newspaper reports, emails and texts. It really encompasses the media we all use to communicate and also highlights its failings as well as it’s pluses. What you read and see is not always the ‘truth’ and sometimes we read and see only what we want to see.

I loved following Ailsa on her tentative journey into fully fledged adulthood, with all its ups and downs. I really felt like I was in her shoes, which is testament to the author’s writing skill’s. This was an enlightening story, about the realities of waiting for a transplant and living with such a condition, as well as coping with a successful transplant. What I hadn’t expected was a story line that took me into an intriguing and unexpected blend of Strictly Come Dancing meets Shakespeare – and if that doesn’t interest you I don’t know what will. Ultimately it’s a book that looks at life and living. It’s about families, friendships and acceptance, especially of yourself. It’s about being confident in your own skin and your own choices, because ultimately only you can live your life.



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