Elephant Rock Books
Published on November 1, 2018
Amazon | Goodreads
Love, mystery, and danger collide in this new literary thriller with the dark heart of a Gillian Flynn novel and the lyrical prose of Jandy Nelson’s I’ll Give You the Sun.
A triumph of authenticity, grace, and nail-biting suspense, Lucia DiStefano’s ingenious debut is an unflinching, genre-bending page-turner.
As seventeen-year-old Linnea celebrates the first anniversary of her heart transplant, she can’t escape the feeling that the wires have been crossed. After a series of unsettling dreams, inked messages mysteriously appear on her body, and she starts to wonder if this new heart belongs to her at all.
In another Austin neighborhood, Maxine braces for a heartbreaking anniversary: her sister Harper’s death. Between raising her brothers and parenting her grief-stricken mother, Max is unable to ignore her guilty crush on Harper’s old flame or shake her lingering suspicion that her sister’s drowning wasn’t really an accident. With Harper as the sole connection, Linnea and Maxine are soon brought together in fantastic and terrifying ways as the shocking truth behind Harper’s death comes to light.
I would describe Borrowed as Return to Me (as in the movie starring Minnie Driver and David Duchovny) meets The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.
The premise totally fascinated me. What if this girl who received a heart transplant started getting messages from the new heart inside her? I loved this idea. And I loved Max and Linnea. Both are pretty unusual teens—Linnea because she’s a transplant recipient, so for much of her life, she’d been sick and waiting for the transplant. She doesn’t go to school (though she’s supposed to get her GED), and she works full time as a pastry chef. So not an entry level thing. This makes her seem a lot more like an adult than a teen.
Max manages the care of the rest of her family and clearly wrestles with survivor’s guilt after her sister’s death. So she, too, feels more adult than teen.
But both situations seemed understandable and worked in the story. Max’s care for her siblings and the hard calls she has to make with her mom definitely won me over. Linnea had me with her spirit and her creativity.
Somewhere around the three-quarter point, the story takes kind of a dark turn. I’m not good with stories like this—ones that show sexual trauma, even if the details aren’t outright explicit, so I struggled with this part of the book. I definitely think it could trigger sensitive readers.
I liked that each girl handled the situation very differently, fighting in their own ways. But it was too intense for me. I finished reading it—didn’t want to stop in the dark part. For readers who like this kind of intense, dark story, Borrowed really hits those notes and packs some interesting characters as well. I’d say it’s a good fit for fans of The Lovely Bones.
Major characters are white or not physically described. One of Linnea’s best friends is Latina.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Extreme profanity used fairly frequently.
Kissing, references to sex. For instance, Max uses sex with her boyfriend as a way to escape the pressures in her life for a while. The last part of the story contains some scenes with some intense content including rape and assault. There’s not a play-by-play description of the event, but we’re in the mind of the victim and see a great deal of the emotional trauma and some of the physical trauma she endures. Definitely not for sensitive readers. Honestly, this was probably a bit too much even for me to read.
Some references to God and a brief “Thank you, Jesus”… more cultural references than spiritual ones, if that makes sense? At one point Chris gives Max a cross he carved from wood as a sort of good luck charm or symbol. It’s clear neither of them mean it as a spiritual symbol.
One character believes fervently that he is called by God to do some horrible things and uses scripture references to defend some awful treatment of others.
See notes in sexual content. Some brief memories and descriptions of someone attacking a girl.
Harper smoked weed and drank with a boy before she died. Teens smoke cigarettes. Max and her boyfriend get drunk together.
Note: I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
About Lucia DiStefano
A former high school English teacher, Lucia DiStefano currently works as an editor, ghostwriter, and writing coach. First-generation Sicilian-American and daughter of an olive farmer, she admits to having recurring pasta dreams. Hailing from central Connecticut, Lucia lives near Austin, Texas with her husband and an old bloodhound named Waffle.
Follow the Blog Tour for More
August 1: Cover reveal at YA Interrobang
September 4: Review at Alice Reeds
September 10: Author interview at Alice Reeds
September 24: Cover reveal at BubblersRead
October 8: Review at Liz Loves Books
October 9-15: Giveaway at Miss Print
October 15: Review at BubblersRead
October 17: Guest post at Liz Loves Books
October 22: Excerpt at YA Interrobang
October 25: Author interview at YA Outside the Lines
October 31: Author interview at Katya de Becerra: The Last Day of Normal
November 1: Giveaway and guest post at Carina’s Books
November 5: Author interview at BubblersRead
November 12: Author guest post at BubblersRead
November 14: Author interview at Cynsations
November 19: First impressions video with YouTuber BookRatMisty
November 20: First impressions on The Book Rat
November 20: Author interview at The Story Sanctuary
December 3: Review at The Story Sanctuary – you are here!
December 5: Podcast Interview at The Writing Barn
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Thanks for the review. Then…even though a well-written book, def not for me.