My Daughter’s Heart

1 September 2023

My Daughter’s Heart
by Kim Jasken
Published by Your Nickle’s Worth Publishing
Review by Michelle Shaw
$24.95 ISBN 9781778690167

Spring of 2020 was a strange and frightening time for everyone. For the Jasken family, the uncertainty of the early days of the pandemic were exacerbated when their eleven-year-old daughter suddenly collapsed, and they discovered the cause was heart failure.

Dealing with a desperately ill child in a world where everything has changed brings a new level of fear. Sierra was initially treated at the Jim Pattison Children’s Hospital in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) but was soon transferred by plane to the Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton for more specialized care.

Kim Jasken’s account of their family’s experience is detailed and absorbing. Her sometimes wry descriptions allow you to live through the exultant highs as well as the moments of utter despair when it all seems too much. She describes each situation so clearly that you ride the emotional roller coaster with her.

I related to the story on two levels. On the one hand it’s a harrowing story of a family’s health crisis. But it’s also a specific moment in time in Saskatoon. I could relate to the school closures, stocking up on hand sanitizer, Lysol wipes and toilet paper and following the arrows on the floor at grocery stores, in an attempt to enforce one way traffic.

The Jasken family had to go through this terrifying time as well as cope with all the additional stress of dealing with a health system in crisis. When Sierra was admitted to the PICU, for instance, only one parent was allowed to stay and the other couldn’t visit. “The parent who stayed could not come and go. Not for food, not for coffee—nothing. A meal tray for the parent would be delivered with Sierra’s. Whoever stayed, stayed.”

You really get a sense of how their family coped during the crisis: having to find accommodation in Edmonton (during a pandemic) so they could be close to the hospital and take turns being with Sierra, as well as dealing with school for both Sierra, and her sister, Sage, who was about to start high school in Saskatoon. All while working remotely themselves.

It’s a fascinating story. The book is beautifully written, and the cover art is gorgeous.


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