October 29, 2007 12:00 PM


by Amy Silverstein |



An interesting fact about having someone else’s heart in your chest: Even after 19 years, the span author Silverstein, 44, has survived post-transplant (she was given 10 years max), it doesn’t feel like yours. “My nerve-deprived heart gives me the terrifying sense of impending ventricular fibrillation,” she writes. “I feel it all the time.” As this compelling memoir makes clear, that’s the least of her medical miracle’s downsides. Silverstein’s fainting spells began in law school. Diagnosed with severe cardiomyopathy, she had a transplant at 25 followed by a new normal: infections, nausea-inducing immunosuppressants and fear of the artery disease that ultimately strikes most transplant patients. And then there was the strain of staying plucky for friends. “My popularity was assured,” Silverstein writes, “only so long as I played the ever-resilient patient.” Though you can’t begrudge her the self-pity, it sometimes grates. Still, her humor and devotion to her husband and son see her (and us) through, and by the end you’ll be rooting for her next 20 years.

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