The GiftThe Gift by Louise Jensen
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The Gift is a sensitively written, enthralling thriller which looks at organ donation and cellular memory. Louise Jensen has obviously undertaken extensive research and as a result brings us a totally absorbing story which leaves us wondering about the possibility of inheriting memory through organ transplant. Told in first person from the point of view of the recipient of a new heart, we are given flashbacks into the donor’s past (also cleverly told in first person) through Jenna’s dreams and apparent memories, which don’t belong to her. Her world grown smaller as, through self-isolation while she recovers and deals with the aftermath of a traumatic operation and the medication she has to take to prevent her body rejecting her new heart, Jenna becomes obsessed with the donor, believing that Callie is somehow reaching out to her. The question is, why? Was Callie’s death an accident, as believed? The question for the author is whether Jenna is really experiencing these memories, or can they be explained away by understandable paranoia due to all she has been through and the cocktail of drugs and their side effects? I must say, the explanations given by her therapist are medically plausible. You go into the session convinced, as Jenna is from her experience and research, that cellular memory exists, that Callie ‘exists’ still, through Jenna, and you leave wondering, is it paranoia at play? Could it be survivor’s guilt that is driving Jenna’s obsession? There is a definite point in the plot where we come to realise that Jenna has to go forward, that her paranoia is founded in some way, but I won’t include a spoiler here. The Gift is a beautiful story (I love the Letter from Louise at the end where she is completely honest about her own views). It’s a book I read after a little hospital saga of my own and it truly was a gift, an original story that I was utterly immersed in. Highly recommended. Thanks, Louise.

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