Published March 13, 2018
Megan Jacobs always wished for a different heart. Her entire childhood was spent in and out of hospitals, sitting on the sidelines while her twin sister Crystal played all the sports, got all the guys, and had all the fun. But even a heart transplant three years ago wasn’t enough to propel Megan’s life forward. She’s still working as a library aide in her small Minnesota hometown and living with her parents, dreaming of the adventure she plans to take “once she’s well enough.” Meanwhile, her sister is a successful architect with a handsome husband and the perfect life—or so Megan thinks.Megan spent over 20 years of her life being sick, but even after getting a heart transplant, she is still scared to do anything outside her comfort zone. She finally agrees to meet her donor Amanda's family, and they give her Amanda's diary, which contains a bucket list of items Amanda wanted to do, before she was killed in a car crash. Megan decides to complete Amanda's bucket list, hoping it will inspire her. Megan's twin sister, Crystal, decides to accompany Megan on her trip, in hopes of mending their relationship.
When her heart donor’s parents give Megan their teenage daughter’s journal—complete with an unfulfilled bucket list—Megan connects with the girl she meets between the pages and is inspired to venture out and check off each item. Caleb—a friend from her years in and out of the hospital—reenters her life and pushes her to find the courage to take the leap and begin her journey. She’s thrown for a loop when Crystal offers to join her for reasons of her own, but she welcomes the company and the opportunity to mend their tenuous relationship.
As Megan and Crystal check items off the bucket list, Megan fights the fears that have been instilled in her after a lifetime of illness. She must choose between safety and adventure and learn to embrace the heart she’s been given so that she can finally share it with the people she loves most. - from Goodreads
First and foremost, this book will give you a serious case of wanderlust! Amanda's bucket list takes the sisters all over the world, from Peru, to Australia, to Beijing, to Europe. Not only did Megan and Crystal see all these amazing sights, but I felt like I learned a lot, too, about each place they visited.
Besides all the traveling, the sisters' relationship is at the center of the novel. Being a twin myself, I could kind of relate to Megan and Crystal, particularly as siblings grow up and start their own lives. But for Megan and Crystal, it was different. Megan was stuck in hospitals, while Crystal got to go school, find a great job as an architect, and get married. When we meet them, the sisters haven't seen each other in years, and it was nice to see them regain their love and trust as the trip went on, although it wasn't easy.
There is also some romance in the book - Megan reconnects with an old friend who also had a heart transplant, and it was sweet to see them experience parts of the trip together, since neither expected they would ever be able to do that. Crystal, on the other hand, is having marriage issues and wonders if she can really have it all - a successful career and a happy marriage.
I thought the writing was good and the pace of the story was quick. Each chapter brought a new country. However, the ending was a little too bland and saccharine for me; it felt like everything wrapped up too quickly and neatly. The story felt a bit simplistic at times, as well. This book is Christian fiction, which I didn't realize when I picked it up, but the religious aspects weren't too overwhelming for me (as someone who doesn't identify with any particular religion).