Searching for David’s Heart is subtitled a Christmas Story and is a moving story about almost- 12-year-old Darcey whose family life has gone through a traumatic change. Her grandmother has gone into a nursing home after suffering a stroke and her care is very expensive. Her dad was hoping to become a police captain and the promotion would have increased his salary and made the finances easier. But another officer — a black officer who got the same score as him — was given the position because he speaks Spanish. But her dad felt it was because the other officer was black. He was so angry that when he left the precinct he slipped on the steps and received a serious back injury which put him behind a desk. Her mother has taken on extra shifts at the hospital to make up the pay loss, and between his pain, his attitude, and the loss of pay, things around the house haven’t exactly been pleasant.
The only stable, happy thing in her life is her older brother David who is always on her side, and gives her confidence. David and her classmate Sam are the only ones Darcey can be herself with. In fact, her speech for school about the person she most admires is about David. But now, even her relationship with him is changing. David has fallen in love, and has less time for her. Then Darcey learns that the birthday gift he gave her was at his girlfriend’s suggestion and was the same as the one he gave her. Her world was falling apart. After throwing her necklace at her brother, she ran off, and although she heard him calling and running after her, she kept going — until she heard the tires screeching and the dreadful thud.
Darcey’s relationship with Sam provides the lighter side to this story. He helps her in her search for the recipient of David’s heart and funds their trip. Houdini is his hero and Sam is well on his way to becoming a first rate magician. He tries to help Darcey overcome her fear of small places. Their trip doesn’t go according to plan and several surprising turns take place before the story ends.
I admit I have a tendency to be overly touched by poignant stories but I think I cried through the last two or three chapters of this book. Bennett‘s story ends well and there are lots of very familiar events and attitudes in here that teens will readily identify with. The characters are believable and while not many readers will have knowledge of either a donor or a heart recipient, they may have encountered similarly serious health issues among friends or family and will possibly find comfort or coping ideas within the novel. It is not in anyway preachy or phoney but is a gripping story of a real little girl groping with some real-life trials of growing up. * * * *