A Matter of Heart by Amy Fellner Dominy
High school swimmer Abby Lipman is on track to qualify for the Olympic trials when she's diagnosed with a deadly heart condition. Will she give up her dream or risk everything--including her life?
Publishes in US: May 12th 2015 by Delacorte
Genre: ya contemp (illness)
Source: publisher via netgalley
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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.
My question to you, my lovely readers:
Could you still compete if you thought it might cost your life?