Book Review: Everything I Thought I Knew by Shannon Takaoka

Everything I Thought I Knew

Author: Shannon Takaoka

Publication Date: 13 October 2020

Genre: YA – Contemporary

Pages: 320

Publisher: Candlewick Press

A teenage girl wonders if she’s inherited more than just a heart from her donor in this compulsively readable debut.

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 doesn’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.

This story follows seventeen year old Chloe, who is your stereotypical high achieving Junior in high school with her sights set on an internship in a research lab and a top twenty college. That is until her heart gives out at cross country practice, which leads to her getting a heart transplant.

Fast forward eight months, and Chloe has veered off the yellow brick road to figure out what she wants out life. To make matters worse, she keeps having recurring nightmares about dying in a horrific crash.

Takaoka pens an eye-opening and poignant coming of age story that explores loss, grief, and readjustment following a near death experience and major transplant surgery. There were times that Chloe’s character made questionable decisions, which was frustrating but it was understandable as she came to terms with her new life following the incident.

I loved the examination of stress and pressure that high school students face. There’s the expectations of family coupled with grueling academics and extracurricular activities.

I found this to be a quick read that I devoured in one sitting. There is a romance subplot, but the main focus of this one is rediscovering one’s self and healing.

Overall, I devoured the first 75% of the book. I had a feeling where the twist was going in the last 25%, and once it did, I wasn’t necessarily a fan which is why this wasn’t a full four stars from me.

Thank you to MMB Tours for the tour invite. Thank you to Candlewick Press for the review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

Thank you to MMB Tours for the tour invite. Thank you to Candlewick Press for providing a review copy. This did not influence my review. All opinions are my own.

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