Delacorte Books for Young Readers
May 12, 2015
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Readers will happily sink into this emotionally grounded, contemporary young adult novel about the sudden end of one girl's Olympic swimming dreams and the struggles she endures before realizing there are many things that define who we are.
Sixteen-year-old Abby Lipman is on track to win the state swim championships and qualify for the Olympic trials when a fainting incident at a swim meet leads to the diagnosis of a deadly heart condition. Now Abby is forced to discover who she is without the one thing that's defined her entire life.
You don't need to dream of the Olympics, play or even enjoy sports to like Amy Fellner Dominy's A Matter of Heart and its main character Abby.
Swimming is Abby's thing. It has been since she was a little girl and took those first few strokes in their backyard pool. Not only is it what she loves, it's what she's good at. Better than good, great, record setting, even. Abby is good enough that her dreams of the Olympics are likely to become more than just dreams.
Until it all comes to an end. She's just days away from State and the Olympic trials qualifier when she is diagnosed with a potentially deadly heart condition, one that means she can no longer swim competitively.
Abby isn't ready to accept the news - and the end of her swimming career, though.
Swimming, the Olympics, it's all been so much a part of Abby's life, of her interactions with her father, that she won't - can't - just let it all go. She hears what can potentially happen to her if she swims, if she races. But she also knows that swimming is who she is. She can't just let that go . . . can she?
The relationships in A Matter of Heart were really well done. There's Abby's relationship with her father (a former swimmer) that revolves so much around Abby's swimming, her goal of the Olympics. Her mother supports Abby's swimming but has never been as committed to it and all that it entails as Abby and her father. When the diagnosis of her heart condition is made, her parents react differently and it plays well into how Abby thinks they view her swimming.
Abby's relationships with her best friend, her boyfriend and a new character are also done nicely. Not everyone reacts as well as maybe they should to the news that Abby needs to stop swimming, but they all react realistically.
The more Abby struggles with the decree that she give up competitive swimming, the more readers can understand just how much swimming means to Abby and how much a part of her life it is. And how scary her heart condition can be.
I could only imagine how hard it must have been for Abby to receive the news she had to give up something she loved so much. The rest of her life seemed to continue on like normal, but without swimming, without training and competitions, without those goals, everything was also different.
The author does a great job getting you inside Abby's head. Even if you don't like how she's dealing with things, what she is planning to do or to not do, you can understand it. Even when she's frustrating, you can relate to Abby and feel her heartache.
You don't have to have much of anything in common with Abby to connect to her character and her story, to hope that she'll be able to accept things and find something else, something more to focus on.
About the Author:
Amy Fellner Dominy (website) worked as a copywriter in the advertising business before leaving to earn her MFA in playwriting. Her plays for adults and children have been staged in various cities around the country. Amy's novels for teens include OyMG (Walker, 2011) and AUDITION & SUBTRACTION (Walker, 2012.) Amy's next book is a contemporary YA coming Spring, 2015 from Random House. It's called A MATTER OF HEART.
For the tour, to go along with the 'sports' theme, I had to come up with a Playlist I Listen to While Working Out . .. (likely not PG-rated):
"He bought me a slushie, and I chose blue raspberry. Blue meant water and winning. I wanted to fill myself with as much blue as I could hold." (Abby after winning a blue ribbon.)
Starts: May 6th, 2015
Ends: May 19th, 2015
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