Everything I thought I knew

Shannon Takaoka

Book - 2020

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 does...n't recognize. Is there something wrong with her head now, too, or is there another explanation for what she's experiencing? As she searches for answers, and as her attraction to Kai intensifies, what she learns will lead her to question everything she thought she knew--about life, death, love, identity, and the true nature of reality.--

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Romance fiction
Somerville, MA : Candlewick Press 2020.
Main Author
Shannon Takaoka (author)
First edition
Physical Description
308 pages ; 22 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

During fall track training, senior Chloe passes out and wakes to a diagnosis that indicates she needs a new heart. Following her transplant, Chloe feels unable to connect to her previous life, and she is plagued by blood-soaked nightmares and fragmented memories of unfamiliar people and places. While finishing classes in summer school, Chloe researches posttransplant experiences, discovering the possibility of cellular memory. She fuses this with her interest in multiverses and wonders if this could be the key to her posttransplant self. Meanwhile, she's uncharacteristically drawn to taking surfing lessons with a Japanese American guy named Kai, on whom she develops a deep crush. The concurrent covert hunt for her unnamed donor takes her all over the Bay Area, spawning myriad emotions in the young woman. The novel's light foray into sci-fi might not appeal to some readers, but it shouldn't scare them away. With shades of the film Return to Me, the book asks thought-provoking questions about the fragility of life, our place in the universe, and the possibilities of multiverses and cellular memory.

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

"Sometimes things--glass, eggs, hearts--just break": that's what cross-country runner Chloe realizes when she collapses in her senior year and, diagnosed with cardiomyopathy, is told that she'll die if she doesn't get a new heart. Months after a transplant, she feels better physically but not mentally. Once a straight-A, type-A student, she's now stuck in summer school, has memories she doesn't recognize, and keeps dreaming about a terrible motorcycle crash. The only thing that feels right is her new hobby: surfing. She begins exploring transplant-related memory transfer and whether memory can live in a body's cells. Is that why she now knows how to ride a motorcycle and to get to places she's never been? Why she appreciates her summer school classmate, Jane, whom old Chloe would have disdained? As Chloe and Jane start sleuthing, Chloe and her surfing instructor, Kai, get closer, but is she risking her heart, emotionally and physically? Chloe and Kai's well-drawn ocean adventures are exciting, as is their burgeoning romance, and, though some readers may find the final plot twist hard to swallow, debut author Takaoka weaves a compelling tale of following one's instincts and for connections that outlast physical life. Ages 14--up. Agent: Nicki Richesin, Wendy Sherman Assoc. (Oct.)

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Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up--Chloe's senior year is everything she planned: cross-country team, extracurriculars, and AP courses to ensure she gains entrance to one of her top schools. But she didn't plan to receive a heart transplant. Now instead of graduating with her best friend and academic rival, she is attending GED classes with people she would never have talked to. Drawn to the dark and dangerous Jane, Chloe ventures into a world of rule-breaking and limit testing. And she can't explain the strange memories--if they are real memories--that haunt her. There's also the man who was crying in her hospital room post-surgery, but the hospital swears there were no outside visitors. Is Chloe losing her mind? Could the memories belong to someone else? Part self-discovery, part scientific mystery, Takaoka weaves a story that keeps the pages turning and the heart stirring. Chloe must overcome a life-changing event while navigating changing friendships, newfound love, and her place within the world. She is forced to reassess the things she valued and realize that not every success in life is contingent on course schedules and college acceptance letters. This is a great choice for readers who seek heavier content, but may not be ready for older YA material. The thoughtful balance of self-discovery, humor, and realistic relationships will bring in fans of John Green and Nicola Yoon. VERDICT Readers looking for a good, cathartic cry will love Chloe's journey from losing everything she thought she was, to finding the person she was meant to be.--Carrie Finberg, South Park H.S., PA

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Review by Kirkus Book Review

What if memories could be transplanted along with a heart? Before Bay Area 17-year-old Chloe collapsed while running and learned about her congenital heart defect, she was a competitive senior with her eyes set on college. Life post--heart transplant is completely different, and Chloe can't seem to connect to her old life. Inexplicably drawn to taking up surfing, she finds herself falling for Kai, her enigmatic surf instructor. But she can't ignore the constant, haunting nightmares and surreal, fragmented memories that inexplicably bombard her. A lifelong fan of science, and especially multiverse theories, Chloe finds herself hoping that cellular memory, the ability to store memories in cells outside the brain, is true. Because she's almost 100% sure her anonymous heart donor gave her more than just an oxygen-pumping organ. What begins as a predictable rom-com veers into alternate/parallel universe science fiction, with each layer casting more doubt on Chloe's reliability as a narrator. A slow start with repetitive exposition gives way to a page-turning finale. SF newbies may find the conclusion thought-provoking even if the puzzle pieces of Chloe and Kai's relationship don't always quite click into place. Chloe is White and Kai, who is from Hawaii, is biracial (Japanese/White). Romance and quantum physics intertwine in this frothy introduction to multiverse SF. (Science fiction. 14-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.