There's something to be said for a lousy attitude. Amy Silverstein, who became a heart patient at 24, lambasted her doctor when he said she needed a transplant, agreeing only when her father begged her—on his knees. In the years following surgery, as she struggled through activities that should have been as easy as breathing, Silverstein taught her patient-as-a-saint husband "some things...about unrelenting illness and what it can do to the gentle manners of those afflicted by it." Her unsentimental humor and spitfire response to mortality help the author of Sick Girl (Grove) deal with a "time-bomb heart" that has kept on ticking for 19 years. With apologies to Adlai Stevenson, it's not always better to light a candle; sometimes you need to curse the darkness, too.