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Adina Talve-Goodman’s memoir captures the joy, and grief, of life’s second chances

Adina Talve-Goodman
Maribeth Batcha
St. Louis author Adina Talve-Goodman. Her essay collection, published posthumously, is titled "Your Hearts, Your Scars."

When cancer took the life of Adina Talve-Goodman in 2018, the 31-year-old St. Louis native left behind a trove of published and unpublished essays, drafts and other writings. That material now comprises the new collection,“Your Hearts, Your Scars.”

The collection traces the feelings and impressions of the young author as she navigates living with a congenital heart condition, including a heart transplant at the age of 19.

Although disease ultimately interrupted Talve-Goodman’s plans for her first book, her friends and family collaborated to turn those disparate pieces into a single work.

Sarika Talve-Goodman, who for years acted as her sister’s reader and collaborator, calls the book “a labor of love.”

“When she died, she was still in the creating process, the book hadn't taken shape yet,” she said on Friday’s St. Louis on the Air. “It was my way of still being with her — to gather everything I could, that I knew deserved to be shared, everything that felt ready enough.”

Several of the essays focus on Adina Talve-Goodman’s reckoning with the aftermath of her heart transplant. The two sides of this experience — her own life saved because of another person’s death — make up the core theme of the book, noted Hannah Tinti, who edited the manuscript of “Your Hearts, Your Scars.”

Still, while the focus of the book is on Talve-Goodman’s experience as a transplant patient, Tinti emphasized that it was not “the defining characteristic of her life.”

“She was an actress and comedian,” she said, “She was a huge part of the New York City literary community. You know, she went to clown school in Italy. She traveled around the world, she lived this really vibrant life.”

Tinti added: “Because she always walked this tightrope our whole life between life and death, she lived her life to the fullest. And that is a big part of this book as well.”

On March 2, the Central Reform Congregation is hosting a reading and appreciation eventto mark the release of “Your Hearts, Your Scars.”

To learn more about the life and writing of Adina Talve-Goodman, including Hannah Tinto reading an excerpt from Adina Talve-Goodman’s essay “The Condition of My Transplanted Heart is One of Remembering,” listen to the full St. Louis on the Air conversation on Apple Podcast, Spotify, Google Podcast, Stitcher, or by clicking the play button below.

The hearts and scars of St. Louis author Adina Talve-Goodman
Sarika Talve-Goodman and Hannah Tinti discuss "Your Hearts, Your Scars," and the life and work of Adina Talve-Goodman.

Related Event
What: Your Hearts, Your ScarsReadings & Appreciations of Adina Talve-Goodman
When: 7 p.m. March 2
Where: Central Reform Congregation (5020 Waterman Blvd., St. Louis, MO 63108)

St. Louis on the Air” brings you the stories of St. Louis and the people who live, work and create in our region. The show is produced by Miya Norfleet, Emily Woodbury, Danny Wicentowski, Elaine Cha and Alex Heuer. Avery Rogers is our production assistant. The audio engineer is Aaron Doerr. Send questions and comments about this story to talk@stlpr.org. 

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Danny Wicentowski is a producer for "St. Louis on the Air."