Genre : YA
Publisher: Astraea Press
Mia Templeton is dying. Or was dying. After receiving a heart transplant, her world is forever altered. Before her eyes open, she overhears her donor was a murdered girl of the same age. Whispers invade Mia’s head before she’s even left the recovery room. She develops tastes for foods she once hated, and dreams so vivid, she feels they’re someone else’s memories. Her personality is altered—once a quiet doormat, she’s now inexplicably flippant, and confident. And her unexplained longing for the new boy at school is borderline obsessive.
Morgan Kelley is new. Adopted by his aunt, a descendant of Louisa May Alcott (Little Women), he’s thrown into life at a new high school, and as a historical guide for his aunt’s store—a homage to all things Alcott. Conspiracy theories abound about his mangled lower leg—but no-one has been brave enough to ask. Till Mia.
Something is awry with the Underground Railroad tunnels beneath his aunt’s home. Mia and Morgan enter the world of a secret Literary Society–and are drafted to help bring a rogue Literary giant to justice, solve the mystery of her heart donor, the real fate of Beth from Little Women.
Born and raised in western Pennsylvania, R R Smythe is the daughter of two teachers. Her writing reflects her passions: science, history and love–not necessarily in that order. In real life, the geek gene runs strong in her family, as does the Asperger’s syndrome. Her writing reflects her experience as a pediatric therapist and her interactions with society’s downtrodden. In fiction, she’s a strong believer in underdogs and happily-ever-afters. She also writes non-fiction and lectures on the subjects of autism and sensory integration and is a medical contributor to online journal The Age of Autism.
She also writes under the pseudonym Brynn Chapman.
Excerpt Opening Heart Murmurs:
I don’t remember dying.
“Stand back. Clear!”
Nothing. A feeling of floating, weightlessness.
“Oh, please, please, baby.” My mother’s voice, sounding uncharacteristically hysterical.
“Clear!” A spreading, burning under my ribcage. Followed by a surging river of heat to my heart. It stutters, rumbling like a kettledrum inside my ribs, and up into my skull.
“Come on, Mia.” My father, unglued.
The steady beep-beep-beep of a monitor and the whooshing of a respirator. My chest rises up and down without my permission, a puppet to the machine. A rushing sound, like water filling a vacuum, clogs my ears. My new heart, my new heart, accelerates, beating so fast, it feels as if it will take flight from my newly stapled sternum.
A dull, muted pain aches through my chest; which will, no doubt, intensify when the drugs wear off.
“Too fast.” The monitor is screaming, wailing like a kid’s tantrum.
Two choked sobs. Mom… and Beth.
Beth is here, how wonderful. I try to move my fingers, to tell her I’m okay. Don’t cry.
My brain says lift, but all I got was—“Her fingers twitched. I saw them.” Beth’s voice, relieved and oh-so scared.
My heart thrums, finally steady and even. It feels strange, too far back in my chest. Like an ill-fitting shirt. I raise my hands to try to scratch it, adjust it.
“Mia? Mia, can you hear me? We’re all here, darling. Dad and Beth, and Claire is outside.”
I feel the tube down my throat, choking me. I suck in for air, but my chest rises on its own, interfering with my breathing. I feel like I’m suffocating, despite the oxygen shoved up my nostrils.
“She’s trying to breathe on her own. We need to adjust the respirator. Easy, Mia.” Dr. Starzel, my own personal medical savior.
Two unfamiliar, whispering, conspiratorial voices, “I can’t believe they found a donor, just in time.”
“The report said it was a homeless girl. She was murdered.”
“For heaven’s sake! She may be able to hear you. One more word and I’ll have both of your babbling traps fired.” My father chastises the women, whom I guess to be nurses, by the soft squeaks of their retreating Crocs.
I have a murder victim’s heart? Worry tickles the back of my brain. How did they find a donor? How—I’m struck with pain so blinding, I feel my brain shrivel inward. Like a cowering child. And hear nothing.
The weightless feeling is back.
I feel the burning rush of something shoot into my IV. It’s liquid fire.
I trace its path up my arm, into my brain, addling it. But relief is the trade-off. The pain backs off.
Thump-thump. Thump-thump. It is the only sound I hear, for what seems a very long time…