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When Things are Alive They Hum

"Truths of the heart, sisterly devotion, grief, and medical ethics — this beautifully-written debut is a life-affirming, love-filled tear-jerker."

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LoveReading Says

LoveReading Says

Suffused in the rawness of grief and desperate devotion, Hannah Bent’s When Things Are Alive They Hum is a devastatingly moving debut. Filled with grace, it recounts the pain and moral dilemma of a young woman who refuses to accept the brutal reality that her beloved sister is dying.

Twenty-year-old Harper was born with a congenital heart disorder and has Downs syndrome, which she prefers to call Up syndrome. A force of joy who’s adored by her family and boyfriend, Harper is an inspirational young woman who knows truths of the heart, as seen in the entries she writes in her “autobiography storybook”, and through her deep understanding of people.

Feeling assured her little sister has found joy, Marlowe has moved to London to study rare butterflies. Then, as her academic star rises, she learns Harper is seriously ill and rushes home to Hong Kong to be at her side. When a succession of doctors say Harper is unsuitable for a heart transplant - her only remaining option - Marlowe takes drastic steps, because “Harper deserved to have a heart as much as anyone.” At the same time, Marlowe is still grappling with the pain of losing their mother at a tender age.

With fluttering grace, Bent explores profound questions around medical ethics, and how far a person might go for love. It’s a beautiful book of desperate love, perfectly told through Harper and Marlowe’s dual narratives.

Joanne Owen

Star Books

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