Everything I Thought I Knew

Thank you, Candlewick Press, for gifting me this incredible book by Shannon Takaoka.

“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?”

Okay, y’all stick with me as I try to formulate the best way to review this beautiful story. I know I won’t do it justice, but I am going to try…

In 2019, my sister-in-law, Payton, passed away from a heart defect. She was 19 years old and had a massive heart attack while heading out the door with her boyfriend. She had just graduated from high school and all set to start college in August. She was full of life and love and such pure happiness. She was a vegetarian, played sports, and took care of herself. But, with a hole in her heart, she didn’t stand a chance.

Grief is a normal thing, and in grief, we can often find ourselves wondering where our loved one would be if they hadn’t died. Would they be fulfilling their dreams and making the world a better place? Maybe if Payton had a heart transplant she would in the middle of her sophomore year, driving her jeep too fast down the highway with her dogs in the back seat.

I knew when I started EVERYTHING I THOUGHT I KNEW that it would be a book that I would love, but I had no idea just how much I would love it. How poignant the entire story was to my life and my family’s grief. Takaoka wrote such a creative and reflective story that I couldn’t put it down — I sat down to read a few pages, and then it morphed into 150 pages. I couldn’t sleep, so I read another 100 pages.

Then I sat down this morning to read the last 50 pages while drinking coffee and crying about a book that I truly felt in my heart.

This book also firmly cemented my feelings on organ donation. I have been an organ donor since I was 18 and convinced my husband to sign up as a donor shortly after we started dating. I know there are a lot of reasons while people can’t do that, and I get it. But, for me, once I’m gone I don’t need my organs. And if my donation could potentially save the life of a 19-year-old girl who is just beginning her life then I’m okay with that.

If you haven’t noticed, I loved EVERYTHING I THOUGHT I KNEW and I gave it five-stars. It was published on October 13, 2020, and can be ordered from your local bookstore.

2 responses to “Everything I Thought I Knew”

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