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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

A teenage girl wonders if she’s inherited more than just a heart from her donor in this compulsively readable debut. Seventeen-year-old Chloe had a plan: work hard, get good grades, and attend a top-tier college. But after she collapses during cross-country practice and is told that she needs a new heart, all her careful preparations are laid to waste. Eight months after her transplant, everything is different. Stuck in summer school with the underachievers, all she wants to do now is grab her surfboard and hit the waves—which is strange, because she wasn’t interested in surfing before her transplant. (It doesn’t hurt that her instructor, Kai, is seriously good-looking.) And that’s not all that’s strange. There’s also the vivid recurring nightmare about crashing a motorcycle in a tunnel and memories of people and places she doesn’t recognize. Is there something wrong with her head now, too, or is there another explanation for what she’s experiencing? As she searches for answers, and…

Everything I Thought I Knew

by Shannon Takaoka

Overall Book Review:

Everything I Thought I Knew is the debut novel of Shannon Takaoka.  I, for one, am certainly looking forward to what she will bring next.  This book was insightful, thought-provoking, and kept me turning pages until the end.

First, I quickly fell in love with the main character in this novel.  Chloe is so incredibly real.  A little bit stereotypical in that she is a high achieving high school senior focused on great, not good, grades applying to every named university, etc.  Not typical in that she falls over on the track and ends up needing a heart transplant.  It was definitely a spin that I haven’t seen taken in this way before.

But where Takaoka could have just fluffed the fiction and spent time discussing the aftermath of her transplant, she really dove into some deep subject matter.  Cellular memory is not an easy concept to grasp, but here it was made simple enough that even younger readers could understand.  The way Chloe grapples with what it means to live, survivor guilt, and post-transplant responsibilities came alive on the pages.  I very much enjoyed how Chloe was a deep thinker.  Her term papers during summer school weren’t the stuff of a checked-out senior, but instead dealt with quantum mechanics and quantum entanglement, which added more to the storyline.

The ending completely threw me for a loop and admittedly, I never, ever saw it coming.  I won’t spoil it here, but you’ll want to keep reading until the very last word.  I would highly recommend adding this one to your “to be read” stack.  I am looking forward to what Shannon Takaoka delights us with next.

Review of an Advance Reading Copy

This book was sent to Compass Book Ratings for review by Candlewick


Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language:  18 religious exclamations; 19 mild obscenities; 4 religious profanities; 3 derogatory names; 31 scatological words; 15 anatomical terms; 7 f-word derivatives.

Violence/Gore:  Multiple nightmares or recounting of motorcycle crash with blood, injury and death; nightmare depicting bloody, dripping heart being dug up from ground; minor injuries from surf accidents; depiction of blood spray when arterial line is torn out.

Sex/Nudity:  Hand on calf; two kisses; kiss to cheek; boy naked from waist up; hand-holding instance; boy’s hands under girl’s shirt.

Mature Subject Matter:

Death, divorce, computer hacking.

Alcohol / Drug Use:

Teens smoke weed, are depicted vaping, and drink various forms of alcohol.

Overall Book Rating
Profanity/Language
Rating:
10
10
Violence/Gore
Rating:
5
10
Sex/Nudity
Rating:
3
10

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About the Reviewer

I am a full-time mom, full-time wife, and overtime reader. I have been an avid reader for as long as anyone can remember. It must run in the family because both my mother and grandmother are also voracious readers and often pass books back and forth. Almost any genre can spark my interest, but I often go in streaks, reading a bunch of books from one genre, then switching to another for a while and back again.