Briana’s world has turned upside down. Her beloved father has died, and her mother has psychologically checked out, leaving Briana to take care of herself and her special-needs little brother Aaron — all while keeping her grades up and living the life of a teenage girl. Her one source of calm comes from the feeling that she now has a second heart — her father’s — beating just below hers. Her “Dad heart” beats out cryptic but comforting messages, and each time, Briana is transported back to a memory before Aaron’s birth, when her family was together and life seemed less confusing. Stretched to her breaking point, Briana tries to cope with Aaron’s “stone-face tantrums,” her best friends’ turning their backs on her, and the stress of moving. Life begins to spiral out of control, threatening to take Briana with it.
Although the book doesn’t contain extensive Jewish content, the family’s Jewish identity is reinforced by details such as the presence of a rabbi at Briana’s father’s funeral, and the family’s celebration of Hanukkah. The Girl with More Than One Heart will hook readers from the first line and carry them through to the end. Briana captures the reader’s heart with the two beating in her own chest. This is the story of a girl working through grief, dealing with the curveballs life constantly pitches, and finding a path back to normal life, whatever that is. It is a powerful story with a unique format.
Marcia Berneger is a retired teacher who lives with her husband and three crazy dogs. She taught both first and second grade, as well as special education. She currently teaches Torah school, in addition to her volunteer work in classrooms, libraries, and with various fundraisers. She lives in San Diego.