The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

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Book Review of The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland

This book review of The Curious Heart of Ailsa Rae by Stephanie Butland has been more difficult to write than normal. Unexpectedly, this book has found a tender spot in my heart. I have a few connections with this book. In the story, Ailsa receives a heart transplant, and her friend Seb receives a corneal transplant. My mother-in-law received a corneal transplant many years ago, so I related to Seb and his circumstance. Then, about 4 ½ years ago my father-in-law received a heart transplant.

In the months previous to his heart transplant, my father-in-law spent weeks in the hospital. He had an LVAD pump put in, and we went through this strange act of asking for a miracle. I say strange because you want your prayers answered. You want the miracle. But in order for that to happen, someone else must lose his life. Another family must lose a loved one so that you may keep yours.

Then, in the middle of the night we received the phone call. There was a heart that was a match, and he was going into surgery. What a blessing. My father-in-law did really well with his new heart. He got a second chance at life, and he took it. We are so grateful to his donor and the donor’s family. It’s hard because you know that their sacrifice brings your joy.

Sadly, my father-in-law passed away about ten months ago. The wound is still fresh. It wasn’t his heart, though. His heart stood strong until the end. Unfortunately, he had pulmonary fibrosis, and died from complications with that. We will never forget that because of his donor we had 3.5 more years with him. Thank you to those who become donors, who give others a chance at life.  


“Ailsa Rae is learning how to live. She’s only a few months past the heart transplant that—just in time—saved her life. Life should be a joyful adventure. But…

Her relationship with her mother is at a breaking point.

She knows she needs to find her father.

She’s missed so much that her friends have left her behind.

She’s felt so helpless for so long that she’s let polls on her blog make her decisions for her. And now she barely knows where to start on her own.

And then there’s Lennox. Her best friend and one time lover. He was sick too. He didn’t make it. And now she’s supposed to face all of this without him.

But her new heart is a bold heart.

She just needs to learn to listen to it…”


My Book Review:

Ailsa has a good voice in this story. She’s authentic. Although she’s not perfect, she is learning. I like how you see her growth as the book progresses. It would be difficult to transition from thinking you could die at any time to thinking of a whole life ahead of you. Sometimes she is strong and other times she isn’t, but isn’t that how life really goes? I don’t know anyone who is strong all.the.time. If they act that way then you know they’re hiding something.

Seb seems like a good guy. I like his voice as well, and think he is great for Ailsa at this time of her life. Does he have some growing up to do as well? Yes, but that’s one of the things I like about him. I like that he’s down-to-earth and normal even though his circumstances might not be.

I think the character development in the book is done very well. The writing style is easy to read and understand, flows well, and sucks you into life in Edinburgh, Scotland. Now I want to go there! Butland does a great job writing dialogue. It doesn’t seem forced or awkward; it feels real and is quite engaging. You do need to pay attention to the dates at the beginning of the chapters because once in awhile it sends you back in time, and I got confused a few times.

The moral of the story is that life is hard, but good. Even boring life can be hard sometimes. You don’t let that pull you down, though.  Stand up, take charge, change what you need to, and go forward with a positive attitude. Look for the good in life, be grateful for what you have, and try to make life better for others. Be kind and forgiving. Love, and allow others to love you. Believe in yourself. Take advantage of the time you have with your loved ones because you never know what tomorrow brings.

I enjoyed this story, and loved getting sucked into Ailsa’s world. It’s fun that she’s a blogger too! I finished reading the book this morning, and I admit that it has touched me in a way that I didn’t expect. I miss my father-in-law, but am so grateful for his heart donor and the 3.5 more years of family parties, camping trips, birthday parties, Christmases, and family dinners we were able to have. Hug your loved ones today!


Content Rating RRating: R (There’s quite a bit of profanity, including many “f” words. There isn’t any violence, but there are a few “intimacy” scenes and discussions about it.”

Age Recommendation: Adult

Rating: 3.5/5 (I lowered it from 4 because of all the profanity.)

3.5 Star Rating

If you would like to purchase this book, click here:

Disclosure: I did receive a free copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.


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This book review is dedicated to my father-in-law Robert. Love ya, Bob!!!

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