EVERY BORROWED BEAT offers an unflinching look at not only the realities of heart failure, but at memory, grief, guilt, and what it means to live—in spite of another, for another, and for yourself..

by Erin Stewart
Delacorte, January 2025
(via Writers House)

Delaney Moss should have died. She was supposed to die.

She never expected, after years of waiting, to receive a heart transplant. Now, seventeen-year-old Delaney doesn’t know what to do with her life. Her daily routine consisted of staying indoors, eating heart-healthy foods, and posting about her transplant list experiences on @TheWaitingList with her long-distance best friend (and heart failure buddy) Chloe. Now, Delaney latches onto the one thing that gives her meaning: learning as much as she can about the person whose heart she inherited.

After some sleuthing, Delaney concludes her heart donor was a girl her age, Mia, who died tragically one town over. Delaney tells herself that attending a post-mortem birthday celebration for Mia will help her fully know who Mia was. And she’s sure that after the memorial, she will be able to move on with her life. But then she meets Clayton: a boy who makes her new heart race; a boy whose grief and outlook resonate with her, and a boy who, it turns out, was Mia’s best friend. Instead of having her curiosity—and guilt—sated, Delaney is suddenly more drawn to Mia than ever. So much so that Delaney lies, saying that she was internet friends with Mia and furthering her connection to Clayton.

Thus begins Clayton and Delaney’s mission to honor Mia’s memory by living out entries from Mia’s vision board, one of the few things she left behind. They take on adventures like sneaking into a swimming hole and spending a day making pancakes. Delaney doesn’t want to admit it, but she’s falling for Clayton. What’s worse, she still hasn’t confessed that she lied about knowing Mia—not to mention that she has Mia’s heart. Delaney’s been shirking her responsibilities helping run @TheWaitingList, not to mention her friendship with Chloe, so when Delaney tries to pull Chloe and @TheWaitingList into the charade, Chloe is reluctant. Despite warnings from her best friend, Delaney continues to ignore the realities of her post-transplant life, opting instead to dive headfirst into creating @TheMiaProject in Mia’s memory.

But Delaney isn’t the only one hiding something. Mia’s brother Tanner won’t talk to Clayton, and Clayton won’t tell Mia why. Hundreds of miles away, Chloe’s health has taken a turn for the worse. And Delaney’s ever-worried mother has been withholding earth-shattering news: that Mia is not Delaney’s donor. As Clayton’s grief begins to overtake him and Chloe’s heart transplant is a failure, Delaney’s stress sends her (and her heart) to the hospital. Now, something needs to give. Delaney needs to face what’s on her heart—the truth, the guilt, and the future—before it’s too late.

Erin Stewart is the acclaimed author of Scars Like Wings and The Words We Keep. She loves using her background in journalism to research and write fiction based on real life. A heart failure survivor and adoptive mother, she believes life throws plot twists and people in our path for a reason.

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