Tiny Pieces of Us – Nicky Pellegrino
A beautifully written story that really tugs on the heartstrings.
Born with a life-threatening heart defect Vivi receives a heart transplant, her donor, a 16 year old boy killed in an accident riding his bike home one evening. Grace, the boy’s mother makes the selfless yet heartbreaking decision to say goodbye to her son and offers his organs so he can give the gift of life to others. It’s one of the most gut wrenching starts to a novel I have read in a long time.
A few years later Vivi, working as a journalist for a tabloid newspaper in the UK, publishes an article to raise awareness for organ donations and is soon contacted by Grace. Her pain is still so raw and so fresh and she is struggling with the decision she made knowing that others now have tiny pieces of her son helping them live and breathe each day. It has now almost become an obsession, she needs to find and meet these people so she can feel closer to her son again and Vivi is unwittingly thrust into the search with Grace.
Over time we are introduced to the other “organ recipients” for want of a better term. Each with their own fears and struggles just like Vivi. Although we don’t learn about the others in as much detail, we understand them as how Vivi sees them and how they fit in with her life, while still understanding the tears, heartaches but also joy they have all experienced at receiving a second chance at life.
The story captures the emotion of Vivi perfectly and how she lives her life with the constant worry of how things could suddenly turn for her, almost an acceptance that her life could still be a short one. Will her new heart fail? How can she plan for a future of a long and happy life when her body could reject her heart even years on from her surgery?
As someone who reads a few too many thrillers this was a surprising change of pace for me, one that was full of warmth and emotion and ultimately uplifting. I thought the author handled the subject of organ donation with absolute care and sensitivity, it made me think of my own mortality and what I could be doing to take better care of myself. Am I living my best life every day?
Tiny Pieces of Us is published by Hachette Australia and is out now. Thank you so much for my advanced copy in exchange for my review.