The perfect daughter. The perfect girlfriend. The perfect murder?
Jenna is given another shot at life when she receives a donor heart from a girl called Callie. Eternally grateful to Callie and her family, Jenna gets closer to them, but she soon discovers that Callie’s perfect family is hiding some very dark secrets…
Callie’s parents are grieving, yet Jenna knows they’re only telling her half the story. Where is Callie’s sister Sophie? She’s been ‘abroad’ since her sister’s death but something about her absence doesn’t add up. And when Jenna meets Callie’s boyfriend Nathan, she makes a shocking discovery.
Jenna knows that Callie didn’t die in an accident. But how did she die? Jenna is determined to discover the truth but it could cost her everything; her loved ones, her sanity even her life.
‘A heart is not just an organ. The heart stores secrets and lies. Hopes and dreams. It’s more than a muscle. I know it is. The heart remembers.’
I eagerly anticipated Louise Jensen’s second book after loving her debut The Sister and did wonder if she would be able to pull off another novel as great as her first. Well, I had nothing to worry about, The Gift is simply stunning!
Following a heart transplant, Jenna feels the need to know who had saved her life by donating their heart. As Jenna begins to experience emotions and have dreams that seem to be from someone else’s subconscious, this need to know about her donor, Callie, becomes ever greater. What Jenna does not expect is to become mixed up in the mysterious circumstances surrounding Callie’s life and death.
Even though this is only Louise’s second novel, I recognised her writing immediately despite it being a while since I had read The Sister. The Gift has a quiet undertone and a subtlety that, for me, adds to the tension and sense of foreboding that pervades the book. She perfectly sets time, feeling, characterisation and depth within the story with gorgeous descriptions and prose that is uniquely her own. A feeling of unease carries you through the book until the end, a prose which is in turn compelling and thrilling yet strangely enchanting.
Told in first person narrative and interspersed with dream sequences, Louise effectively captures the very essence of Jenna allowing the reader to identify and empathise with her. I found myself really worrying about her. All the little things that make up a personality are included, such as the music the characters listen to, that can really give you an insight into who they are.
Louise has written not just a psychological thriller but a novel that explores human emotions giving it a poignancy and meaning. I love a book that stirs up deep emotions within me but the subject matter has to be portrayed with empathy and understanding and Louise has done this, again, perfectly. The Gift really resonated with me as she describes how a person’s life can change within the blink of an eye through ill health. Her descriptions of how Jenna feels following her operation and the change in her life echoed my own feelings in a similar experience, however she has written about this in such a way that it will move anyone;
‘Before. Such an innocuous word but there would always be a divide. Before and after. A glass wall separating the things I do then with the things I couldn’t do anymore.’
There are some interesting themes running throughout the book and I found the idea of Cellular Memory fascinating and this is not something I have come across in a novel before. It really made me think – and head for Google.
Initially I thought I had the story sussed and had worked out what the outcome was going to be. Boy, was I wrong. Louise kept me on my toes with a story that took me in a direction I wasn’t expecting.
I knew that Louise was an author to watch out for and she has, I’m so pleased to say, proved me right. The Gift is both thrilling and moving and works on so many levels. I loved it.
Thank you to Louise Jensen, Bookouture and Netgalley for the advance copy.
Published on 16 December 2016 by Bookouture.
Pre-order a copy HERE.