Dominy, Amy Fellner. A Matter of Heart
May 12th 2015 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Things are going well for Abby. She is an excellent swimmer, and might possibly make the Olympic team, a life long goal for her, as well as her father. She has a really hot boyfriend, Connor. When she gets dizzy after a swim practice, her coach demands she see a doctor, even though Abby thinks it's nothing. The doctor, a friend of her mother's, tells her bad news-- she has Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, or HCM. The good news is that it's not fatal if treated, and it's treatable. The bad news is that she has to take drugs that slow down her heart, and she can't swim competitively. Since the first knowledge that a teen has HCM ususally comes at their death, Abby's mother is relieved, but both Abby and her father refuse to believe it. Abby keeps training, lies, sneaks around, and replaces her medication with baby aspirin. Her boyfriend doesn't deal well with the news, and she starts a relationship with bad boy Alec. Determined to get a spot on the Olympic team, Abby endangers herself and everything that is really important.
Strengths: This felt a bit like Tiffany Schmidt's Send Me A Sign which is oddly popular with my girls, PLUS it has a girl passionately devoted to a sport. Perfect. A romance as well. Definitely purchasing.
Weaknesses: Hard to read as a parent. Teenagers really can be colossal idiots.
What I really think: This should have had a swimmer on the cover! Why does it not?
Monniger, Joseph. Whippoorwill.
September 1st 2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
E ARC from Netgalley.com
Clair lives with her father in a run down house in a rural area in the Northeast. The two get along in the wake of her mother's death, but when Clair sees a dog tied up in the neighbor's yard for a couple of weeks without proper food, shelter or attention, she knows she can't stand silently by, even though her father warns her that the neighbor has a vicious temper. She attempts to let the dog off his chain for a bit, and this leads the boy who lives there, Danny, to clean up the dog's area and start taking better care of poor Wally. Clair has read a book written by a priest who runs a dog training center, and she tells Danny about what she has read. The two go for hamburgers, and Clair is surprised that Danny is a lot nicer than she would have thought. Her father is concerned, and her best friend, Holly, immediately detects a romance. That takes time, as the two work hard to train Wally to behave properly. The romance unfolds slowly, and Clair is constantly surprised by it. When Danny asks if Clair would like to travel to visit the only sculpture her mother ever sold in a town a few hours away, she jumps at the chance, and the two have a lovely, romantic day. Then, things go bad very quickly. Danny is accused of something horrible, and Clair is afraid that his father will sell the dog. Can she reconcile her feelings for Danny with his actions, and can she make sure that Wally stays safe?
Strengths: This had a lot of good information about training dogs and helping them to be happy, helpful dog citizens. The romance is bittersweet, and the message that you can't always tell what a person (or dog) is like from outward appearances is a good one. Interesting read, and not as sad as many of the YA books out there.
Weaknesses: Odd mix of romance and dog story. If the story were from Danny's view point, I might be able to sell it to 8th grade boys, but the audience for this is tough.
What I really think: I would buy this for a high school library, but it's a bit too slow and sad for a middle school romance, even though there isn't anything inappropriate.