From the Trade Paperback edition.
A Matter of Heartby Amy Fellner Dominy
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/b>/i>
"A novel that will make your heart pound--anxiously, joyfully, triumphantly."--New York Times Bestselling Author, Lauren Myracle.
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.
Praise for A Matter of Heart:
"This engaging and fast-paced read expertly paints the world of high-school sports and the single-minded focus and commitment that some high-school athletes can have."--Booklist
Dominy's excellent use of dialogue firmly grounds the novel in contemporary times. The setting thrives on details, showcasing excellent research. . . . This is recommended for Chris Lynch fans, swimming fans, and anyone interested in warning teens about the dangers of HCM.--VOYA
"This is a solid look at an elite athlete who gets benched . . . An enjoyable read even for couch potatoes."--Kirkus
"More than a sports novel, this book delves deep into issues of identity—how we identify ourselves separately from what we do well—and the importance of support systems while making life-altering decisions. Give this to fans of Catherine Gilbert Murdock’s “Dairy Queen” series"--School Library Journal
From the Hardcover edition.
Gr 9 Up—Abby knows what she wants, and she is seconds away from achieving it: making the Olympic Trials in her premier event—the 100-meter freestyle. Weeks away from reaching her dream, she gets dizzy after a swim meet. Concerned, her coach wants her to get cleared by her doctor before he will let her swim again. Abby and her parents are shocked to learn that she has Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a medical condition that has been responsible for the loss of top high school athletes across the country. Abby and her parents each react differently after the doctor's diagnosis. Her mother incorrectly believes that her daughter's condition is fatal, her father is in denial, and Abby, knowing that she actually has a mild form that likely isn't terminal, decides not to give up on her goals. The teen continues to struggle with her decision to risk her life in order to achieve her dream. Even non-athletes will relate to Abby and her fight to attain a seemingly impossible aspiration. More than a sports novel, this book delves deep into issues of identity—how we identify ourselves separately from what we do well—and the importance of support systems while making life-altering decisions. VERDICT Give this to fans of Catherine Gilbert Murdock's "Dairy Queen" series (Houghton Harcourt, 2006).—Stephanie Charlefour, Wixom Public Library, MI
It all comes down to heart for one athlete. Abby is on top of the world. She routinely blows her competition out of the pool and is on the verge of qualifying for the Olympic trials at 16, thus fulfilling her father's thwarted dreams for himself. She's got her loyal best friend, Jen, and her handsome, easygoing boyfriend, Connor, both fellow swimmers. The only problem is Alec, whose questions about Connor's performance in the pool also extend to Abby. But then Abby gets dizzy and faints after a race. A doctor's visit reveals she has hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a heart condition that is often a cause of unexpected death in teen athletes. It's treatable with beta blockers—but Abby can't swim fast on the pills. And without the pills, she risks death every time she's in the pool. Abby makes all the expected mistakes as she comes to grips with her diagnosis, including offering sex to a no-longer-interested Connor. It will take time, support and love for Abby to figure out who she is without swimming. Dominy writes Abby's narration in the first person, giving readers a poolside view to her process; it's not flashy, but it works. All in all, this is a solid look at an elite athlete who gets benched: Only the juicing subplot underperforms, although it helps to define character motivations. An enjoyable read even for couch potatoes. (Fiction. 13-16)
Meet the Author
Amy Fellner Dominy is a former advertising copywriter, playwright, and hula-hoop champion. Previous novels for tweens and teens include OyMG, a Sydney Taylor Notable Book, and Audition & Subtraction. Amy lives with her husband and various pets in Phoenix. Visit her online at amydominy.com.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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I wanted to read this one because I am drawn to the heavy contemporaries, especially those dealing with teen illness. It has kinda been my thing since loving Lurlene McDaniel in middle school--well I still do really. Plus the aspect of her swimming competitively and the Olympic goals. I liked that I got a full sense of Abby's life before she got her diagnosis. I got to see how much she loved swimming and how it has been in her blood since she was young. I got to see how much time and effort she put into it and even though her dad was once an Olympic hopeful and his chance was ruined by an injury, I could see how much Abby took ownership over pushing herself, wanting to get to the next level, and her passion and drive that comes from within. I liked the family aspect in this one. It was nice to see a father being so involved. Yes, he would talk with Abby about her meets, giving her advice, and being supportive, but I could see that even though it helped her that he loved it and was there for her, the desire to compete and get to the next level was within her, and he just supported. Her mom was also a constant in her life, and as a mom myself, I can totally see where her worry came in. She worried that her husband pushed too hard, and that Abby was depriving herself of the normal teenage life. But she ultimately supported Abby. When she got sick, Abby saw her as trying to keep her away from her dream. But Abby didn't really grasp, or she refused to understand the seriousness of what the doctor told her about her illness. That getting her heartrate up could cause death or cardiac arrest. She heard the word that it was mild to moderate and she thought that meant that she was out of danger. Abby's mom just wanted to protect her and wanted to see her daughter live, not be involved in risky behavior and the sport she so loved end up killing her in what would have been preventable death. The romance was a little problematic for me. She is with a handsome guy and he is one of the top swimmers, but there is a lot of tension and she is hyper-aware of his competition Alex. They are thrown together a lot and I liked their chemistry but with she wouldn't have been with Connor, and there wouldn't have been the doubt on her part compounded by accusations from Alex. I wish it would have been one guy or the other, and not have her back and forth. Connor and her at first seem to be mostly the physical attraction and having swimming and being good as their main connection. But Alex is kind, and he is great with kids while they are working together giving swim lessons. He seems to be more understanding of her illness, and worried about her instead of freaking out. I did enjoy the friendship in this one. Her bestie Jen would tell it like it is, and that was something that Abby needed, she had her dad to help with the swimming, but Jen would tell it to her straight about both her illness, and boys. She was smart and she shared interests with Abby, but she was tough and bold, and I loved her for it. I like the way that things wrapped up and the important discoveries about herself, her passions, and what it means to have heart, even if there is a physical problem. I think that the only way for her to learn was the hard way, and since a lot of young adults really have a hard concept of not being indestructible, I think that it was a lesson that would only be learned by making some poor decisions and being faced with consequences. Bottom Line: Great look at a teen reevaluating her dreams and what she considered a fundamental part of her identity when faced with a heart condition.
A Matter of Heart was a roller-coaster ride of emotions. Abby is on track to become a Olympic swimmer. She's a hard worker, loves the sport, is competitive, pushes herself, and has the heart to give it her all. But then everything changes and she doesn't know how to be without swimming. It takes time before she finds herself again. I loved the support group that Abby has. Her parents, even though her father felt like he was really pushing her to still swim - a lot of that was her own misconception and some miscommunication. Her friend Jen who was there for her and even went against her wishes because she was trying to protect her. Then there was Connor and Alec. For those of you who don't appreciate love triangles, I wouldn't really consider this one. Each boy had a role to play. I do have to say that I absolutely loved Alec. Then there was Abby's coach and the sweet kids she taught swimming lessons to. Abby's story was heartbreaking. A girl who loves to swim and hopeful of Olympic gold to have it all taken away. It was all she really knew and had known for so long. I felt like her emotions were so raw, so desperate and points, and yet so real. Thank goodness she had people looking out for her and that she eventually comes to terms with her heart condition. It doesn't come easy. She almost loses it all. I would recommend A Matter of Heart to those who enjoy contemporary YA, who know what it feels like to dream, to those who have lost a dream, and to romantics (because this one has some sweet romantic moments). Overall a beautiful story. Content: Some swearing, innuendo, suggestive content, and some make-out details that I could have done without. Source: I would like to thank the publisher through NetGalley for my complimentary ARC, which did not affect my review in any way.