Funny, romantic, moving novel about a teenage girl who has to piece together a new identity after a major upheaval.
Born with a congenital heart defect, Marlowe Jensen has been known as the “Dying Girl” her whole life. Being alive for her 18th birthday was remarkable enough, but actually winning the organ donor lottery was beyond anything she could have imagined.
Now, for the first time in her life, Marlowe has to consider what adulthood might hold for her.
But before she can move on she feels she needs to meet the donor’s family. Disregarding their request for no contact, Marlowe sets out to find them.
Although some of Marlowe’s experiences may not be familiar to teens, her quest for independence and struggle to be seen by her mother as a strong, resilient adult capable of self-determination will be all too familiar. The author’s charming voice and her skill at creating flawed likeable characters also provide an immediate connection.
Marlowe’s extraordinary family illustrates an extraordinary gift for fleshing out secondary characters that reminds you of Australian YA luminaries such as Melina Marchetta and Simone Howell. Seen through Marlowe’s eyes, her vegan ‘warrior’ mother is inflexible and frustrating – but audiences, understanding she’s lived in fear of losing her daughter since the moment she was born, will sympathise with her. Marlowe’s younger brother Pip who dresses like it’s Halloween every day, is hilarious, and simply one of the most delightful characters encountered in YA literature in ages. The immense love between Pip and Marlowe is a rare and beautiful thing to find in YA fiction.
A wry and sharp sense of humour permeates throughout the novel, and readers will enjoy the unfolding romance between Marlowe, and Leo, the butcher’s apprentice, as they navigate this ethical minefield of parents and animal products.
Like the titular character in her first book the acclaimed Frankie, Shivaun Plozza has written a complex, deeply likeable protagonist. Marlowe’s quest to find her donor’s family threatens and impacts on everyone around her and our hearts ache for all of these people as they navigate the fallout.
The ‘difficult second book’ is a much-discussed topic in the writing world, but with Tin Heart, Plozza has shown that her stunning debut novel Frankie was no fluke. She has written another wonderful novel, at once gritty and moving, rich in character and pathos. The incredibly impressive Tin Heart will stay with readers far beyond the last page.
About the author
Shivaun Plozza’s short fiction, flash fiction, essays and poetry have appeared in anthologies and journals including Where the Shoreline Used to Be, Above Water, Text, Vivid, and The Victorian Writer. When she’s not writing, Shivaun works as an editor and manuscript assessor. Her critically acclaimed first novel, Frankie, was a CBCA Notable Book, was shortlisted for the Inky Awards and won the YA category of the Davitt Awards.