Sixteen-year-old Abby Lipman is on track to qualify for the Olympic trials when a fainting incident at a swim meet leads to the diagnosis of a deadly heart condition. If she swims, she could die.

Will she give up her dream or will she risk everything−including her life?

 A portion of the proceeds from this book will be donated to The Anthony Bates Foundation who brings heart tests to high school athletes. 

A Bank Street College Best Children’s Book 2016
•A Top 10 Sports Book for 2015; The American Library Association

•An ALA Top 10 Sports Book of the Year, 2015

•A Bank Street College ‘Best Children’s Book of the Year’ 14 and older, 2016

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.

Wishful Endings

A powerful book about finding yourself when everything around you is crumbling. This one is a must read – add it to your list.

YA Book Nerd

A novel that will make your heart pound—anxiously, joyfully, triumphantly.

New York Times Bestselling Author, Lauren Myracle 

This book was such a great read that I just read through in the matter of a couple of sittings. Once I finished the book, I wished there was more! I feel like these characters still have a story to tell.

Michelle, Adventures in Bookland

Even if you aren’t an athlete, I think you will be able to relate to this story. While it focuses on Abby’s love of swimming, the idea that you are more than your interests or your accomplishments is one that I believe you never stop learning. A Matter of Heart is a thoughtful story about the way change can knock your world off of its axis and about the strength, both internal and external, we can all find to make it right again.

Ex-Libris Kate

A Matter of Heart by Amy Fellner Dominy dives deep into ideas of identity and the things we think define us and make us who we are. It challenges us to look inside ourselves for our One Thing, and then look even deeper to see what’s driving that, and then look deeper still…

This book took me through such a roller coaster of feelings. I really felt connected to Abby. I remember those struggles with identity, and while I never had mine so directly challenged, I think it’s something we can all identify with. We’ve all had our dreams tested, some of us are still being challenged to rise above the obstacles we think are standing in the way of our happiness, our One Thing.

Abby shows us that while death might be what happens when our dreams end, rebirth is waiting if we can only be brave enough to dream again.

Think Banned Thoughts

Every teen confronts risk, which will help this story resonate with readers who aren’t athletes. But those who are will relate to both Abby’s competitive fire and the pressure she feels to please her parents (especially her father, a former swimmer himself) and coach.  

…a great jumping-off point for important conversations with your child.

Although there are no zombies, vampires, or magical orphans in sight, the book captures Abby’s feelings and actions so skillfully that kids will be drawn in to her story and eager to read more., Family Fitness Expert

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. All in all, this is a solid look at an elite athlete who gets benched.

An enjoyable read even for couch potatoes.


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. 

School Library Journal

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. Readers who play a sport, particularly those involved with swimming, will identify with Abby’s dedication to the pool and the identity it gives her. 


Dominy’s excellent use of dialogue firmly grounds the novel in contemporary times. The setting thrives on details, showcasing excellent research. Dominy slowly develops her characters, expanding on the stereotype of the highly focused jock, the overzealous parent, and the attractive bad boy. This is recommended for Chris Lynch fans, swimming fans, and anyone interested in warning teens about the dangers of HCM.


Swimming is who I am. 

Winning is what I live for. 

No one is going to stop me from becoming the fastest swimmer in the world. 

Not my dad. 

Not my boyfriend. 

Not even my own heart. 

“You did it,” Dad says. “You’re there, Abby. You keep training and you’re one swim away from an invitation to the United States Olympic team trials.” He shakes his head, almost as if he can’t believe the words himself.

I feel dizzy. Because of his words, maybe. The way he is head is still moving. The way there’s cold creeping up my neck and making my head feel numb.


I suck in a breath. My heart pushes against my ribs. My lungs still ache. I want to smile at Dad.  This is amazing. Life is amazing. First place. Trials. Connor.

Smile, Abby. Smile with Dad.

Only, now Dad isn’t smiling either. He looks dizzy. No—wait. He looks worried. I’m the one who’s dizzy.


Is wrong.

I can’t breathe.