Tin Heart (Shivaun Plozza, Penguin)
Marlowe Jensen was The Dying Girl. Born with a congenital heart defect, no-one expected Marlowe to make it to her 18th birthday until she won the organ-donation lottery, and got a transplant. Now she has a stranger’s heart in her chest and no idea who she is. Marlowe hopes she can find answers by connecting with the donor’s family. Even after they request no contact, Marlowe is determined to learn about her donor by any means possible. Tin Heart combines the timeless narratives of coming of age, family feuds and the power of love with a complex exploration of chronic illness. Despite these heavy themes, it remains light-hearted, with a cast of endearing characters that includes Marlowe’s perpetually costume-clad younger brother, Pip; her mum, who has just opened her own dream vegan shop … next door to Bert’s Quality Butchers; and Bert’s son and apprentice butcher Leo, who is as cute as he is annoying. Shivaun Plozza’s debut novel Frankie delighted and devastated readers, and Tin Heart cements Plozza as a writer with a charming voice and a flair for flawed, lovable characters. Fans of contemporary rom-coms with grit, such as Cath Crowley’s Graffiti Moon, will find much to enjoy here.
Jordi Kerr is a freelance reviewer and YA advocate, formerly with the Centre for Youth Literature