Cover image for A distant heart
A distant heart
Physical Description:
x, 302 pages ; 21 cm
General Note:
Includes a reading group guide.
Geographic Term:
Her name means "miracle" in Sanskrit: Kimaya was the first baby to survive after several miscarriages, and grew up in a mansion at the top of Mumbai's Pali Hill, surrounded by love and privilege. But at eleven years old, she develops a rare illness that requires her to be confined to a germ-free ivory tower in her home. Rahul Savant shows up to wash Kimi's windows, and as years pass he becomes her eyes to the outside world, and she becomes his inspiration to better himself. When a life-saving heart transplant offers the chance of a real future, Kimi anticipates a new life, and Rahul investigates a black market organ ring that cuts too close to home. --


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Born to her parents in Mumbai as a result of prayer, pilgrimage, and every fertility treatment known to modern medicine, Kimaya is the first of her mother's babies to survive after seven miscarriages. Needless to say, her parents treat her like the miracle she is, and protect her from anything outside their mansion. But she develops a rare form or aplastic anemia at the age of ten that severely compromises her immune system and requires her to be isolated in a Laminar airflow room. Trapped in her ivory tower, she befriends the boy who shows up to wash her windows when he makes the math homework that befuddles her magically easy to understand with his brilliant mind.

Rahul Savant was thirteen when his father died taking a bullet for Kimi's politician father. Rahul was left to take care of two younger siblings and his mother. He accepts Kimi's father's mentorship on the condition that he works off the charity as a servant in his home. As he struggles to take care of his family in his poverty and crime-ridden neighborhood he loses his beloved younger sister to illness and learns that blocking out his emotions is the only way to survive loss. But his friendship with Kimi is something he can restrict to the few hours he spends with her across the plastic curtain of her isolation room.

As the years go by Rahul and Kimi develop a unique and deep friendship. He becomes her eyes to the outside world and she becomes his refuge in a cruel world. With Kimi's encouragement, Rahul makes his way into the extremely selective Indian Civil Services Police Cadre. When Kimi is given a new lease on life via a life-saving procedure, she and Rahul must navigate their undeniable attraction, their lost friendship, complicated family dynamics, and a web of lies that cut too close to home to learn the real meaning of courage, loss and love.

Story Locale- Contemporary Mumbai, India

Author Notes

Sonali Dev, writes Bollywood-style love stories that let her explore issues faced by women around the world while still indulging her faith in a happily ever after. Sonali's novels have been on Library Journal, NPR, Washington Post and Kirkus Best Books of the Year lists, among others. She won the American Library Association's award for best romance in 2014, is a RITA Finalist, RT Reviewer Choice Award Nominee, and winner of the RT Seal of Excellence. Sonali lives in the Chicago suburbs with her very patient and often amused husband and two teens who demand both patience and humor, and the world's most perfect dog. Please visit her at

Reviews 3

Kirkus Review

A young Indian woman is finally healthy thanks to a heart transplant, but when she becomes the target of a notorious crime lord, she has to depend on the man she loves to protect her.Kimi has battled illnesses since she was a childfirst a compromised immune system, then a weak heart. Through it all, her one friend has been Rahul, a boy whose father, a policeman, died protecting her own father, Kirit, a politician. Kirit has helped Rahul, giving him opportunities he wouldn't otherwise have had. He'll never be able to pay off the debt, but Rahul insists on working in Kirit's house, where he meets Kimi. The two unlikely friends are well-matched intellectually and respond to each other's wounded spirits, and the relationship helps the lonely Kimi thrive. Rahul is very much aware of their financial and social differences"The Mansion's main living room never failed to make him feel like he had wandered up to the forbidden first-class deck on the Titanic"and once Kimi is a healthy adult, Rahul tries to protect himself and honor her father's wishes by distancing himself. Kimi is frustrated that he won't admit he loves her and tries to move on, an attempt that is foiled when a local crime lord threatens her; Rahul, now a high-ranking police officer, won't let anyone else protect her. The menace is attached to an illegal organ investigation, but Kimi's donation was clean, so why is someone after her? Kimi and Rahul travel from Mumbai to Hong Kong to get answers, learning truths about each other and their pasts that will strengthen their devotion but may also forge obstacles they can't overcome. Dev's (A Change of Heart, 2016, etc.) latest searingly asks its characters what they're willing to do for the people they love, with a narrative that deftly jumps from past to present as it explores family dynamics, class issues, and many layers of guilt, hope, and determination in ways that are both distinctly Indian and universally luminous.Another beautiful, breathtaking novel from a not-to-be-missed author. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Alternating timelines and perspectives, Dev (A Change of Heart, 2016) weaves a vibrant tapestry depicting an intimate relationship. In the past, a rare immunodeficiency confines Kimi to her germ-free bedroom. Her only friend, Rahul, pays off a debt to her father by washing windows and tutoring Kimi, trying to maintain an emotional distance from the sick girl with the doe-like eyes. In the present, Kimi lives a normal life after multiple treatments and a heart transplant until Rahul, now a police officer, informs her that the leader of a black-market organ ring is targeting her. Thrilling action sequences and a complex, weighty romance propel this smart, sensitive story. A natural wordsmith, Dev dives into the psyches of disparate characters with voice-driven prose that includes both chilling insights and quirky humor. She also paints a vivid picture of modern Mumbai, from Kimi's pristine mansion to Rahul's overcrowded chawl (tenement), and the many personalities who inhabit it. Subplots and characters overlap in Dev's novels, so even though this is a stand-alone, encourage patrons to read her earlier novels for an even-more-enriching experience. This poignant, sensual, and exciting tale captures a range of emotions and conflicts.--Hyzy, Biz Copyright 2017 Booklist

Library Journal Review

Dev's companion to A Change of Heart is set in the bustling city of Mumbai, India, where two longtime friends deal with heartache, both literal and figurative. Kimi was born into privilege, but all of her father's wealth and her mother's extreme religious devotion couldn't protect her from ill health. Suffering from a weakened immune system, she lived in a plastic bubble, sheltered from the outside world, until a working-class boy named Rahul entered the household. Rahul had suffered great losses in life and closed his heart off from everyone. When Kimi receives a heart transplant, she is finally ready to pursue life-and Rahul, now a policeman. But then she is accosted by the man Rahul has been investigating for black market organ trafficking and murder. He asks where her heart came from and sets Kimi off on a quest for the truth. The narrative by both Kimi and Rahul shifts back and forth in time from their childhood to their present circumstances. Verdict Dev crafts another thrilling story filled with intense drama, deep emotion, and well-developed characters; a can't-put-down book.-Catherine Coyne, Mansfield P.L., MA © Copyright 2017. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.