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.
I’m so torn about this one. It was a very heartfelt and emotional read that pulled at my heartstrings, but I didn’t love it. From the first few chapters I was immediately immersed in the story and thoroughly enjoyed it. Unfortunately, this didn’t last the entire story. Towards the end of the book, I found that things were happening too quickly and weren’t being resolved very well.
The storyline of A Matter of Heart was interesting and very unique. I’ve never read anything similar to it before, and it was a really nice ‘breath of fresh air’. I enjoyed going on the journey with Abby as she had to rediscover herself and live on despite the challenges she faced.
Abby was an interesting character, and she felt real, which I really liked. While she was often unreasonable and her actions weren’t right, the way that she dealt with the issue of the heart condition was realistic. Rather than simply accepting it, she was in denial and tried to fight against it, which I feel is how somebody actually would react in this situation. And for me, it’s always hugely important for contemporary novels to be realistic.
The original love interest, Connor, was somebody that I immediately disliked. He seemed like such a phony, and didn’t like him with Abby. I personally liked Alec, and was hoping (and expecting) him to end up with Abby.
SPOILER ALERT: When Abby and Connor finally broke up, I was thrilled and knew that she would go with Alec. When they did begin dating I found myself loving them together. But then all this stuff started happening between them, and before I knew it they had broken up. It occurred so quickly and unexpectedly, but not in a good way. I was almost confused in a way. And then at the end, they suddenly got back together, again very quickly. It just felt unnatural.
I wish the last section of the book was stronger, because it would have made the book a lot better as a whole. There were things that happened very, very fast, and I didn’t find it to be a very good closure.
Despite these flaws, it was still an enjoyable read. I would most definitely recommend it if you’re looking for a quick though touching story.
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