Book Briefs: Cold Hands, Warm Heart


Jill Wolfson

Jill Wolfson’s novel, Cold Hands, Warm Heart follows the stories of multiple perspectives impacted by organ donation. The most important character is Dani, a 15-year-old girl who is relying on a miraculous heart transplant in the next two weeks. The story may not be written in the most interesting style, but the emotion brought into the book helps create an interesting and heartfelt story.

Christina Huang, Guest Contributor

Lives begin again, as a result of a life lost. 

Faced with a sudden and unexpected event that robs them of a loved one, the Schecter family has a tough decision to make in Jill Wolfson’s novel, Cold Hands, Warm Heart. Whether or not the healthy body of 14-year-old gymnast Amanda Schecter, will go to other people in need of the organs she no longer has a use for. 

The book is told from multiple perspectives and, rare as it is, rotates between third and first person, switching between chapters for the most part, but between paragraphs as well, near the end. It helps readers identify which character they’ll follow(two people mainly tell the story). 

The most significant character that this story focuses on is Dani, a 15-year-old girl born with an enlarged heart on the opposite side of her chest that moved up the top of the transplant list. It’s good news to be sure, except it was because of the sudden change in her condition that brings her from ‘somewhat stable’ to ‘in dire need’. Unable to bring her heart back by surgeries now, Dani is relying on a miraculous heart transplant in the next two weeks. A heart transplant she’s not sure that she’ll get. 

The characters are all diverse in age, and it shows through the variation of tones used. Similar to how a book well co-written blends well, making it impossible to tell it’s more than one mind behind it, Cold Hands, Warm Heart, does the opposite. From letters by a first grader to ones by a great-grandmother, each character’s voice is distinguishable. However, considering that Dani is 15, they could, at times, sound more immature than expected. 

The story touches on several serious themes, including multiple implications of organ donation. Besides the often-seen life, death, the purpose of it all, and the hidden moments of life worth cherishing the book, through a lens of organ donation, confronts loss and dangerous illnesses. All seen through multiple perspectives. Through the eyes of a six-year-old, happy to have her father saved, or through the ones of a cynical 16-year-old boy, who appreciates death while waiting for life.

Comparatively, the book wasn’t as structured, with conflicts and highs and lows. The writing itself was easily relatable and easy to read, but that, at times, sacrificed the potential for description. 

It’s an eye-opening book that, despite its length of 245 pages, can change the way readers view organ donation and their plans for their future. Something rare to have given much thought about, as was the case for the young and perfectly healthy Amanda, but important to consider nonetheless.

But though not the most enticing to read when it comes to style, the emotion brought into the book was accomplished easily through the connection made between all these different characters, characters that will never even meet, but carry a part of them always. Someone to thank to be able to see their great-grandchild, or eat the things they want to. Someone to thank for the opportunity to get out of the hospital and live their lives. 

Easy to read in terms of sentence structure, but depending on interest, readability may decrease for some readers. The heartwarming, emotional story, backed by dedicated research and information from several sources giving first-hand experience, is like a snapshot in time. The myriad of stories that overlap, all at different parts. At the end, for one. In the middle, for the ones hit hardest. And the beginning, for the ones that have a family to forever thank for making the decision that they believed their daughter would want them to.