2020 Finalist of the Kraken Book Prize for Middle-Grade Fiction
RELEASE: FEBRUARY 1, 2022, FITZROY BOOKS
PUBLICITY: Jackie Karneth, Books Forward scroll down for MEDIA/PRESS KIT
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT THE RIVER BETWEEN HEARTS:
“Rill is determined to stay exactly the same. Everyone and everything around her is changing and growing up. But despite the fact that 5th grade is around the corner and "popular and liking" are all anyone can talk about, Rill won't budge. In an attempt to escape the ever-changing landscape around her, she visits her old hideaway, Fort Kruse. She expects the old photos and old drawings that will painfully attempt to bring back unwanted memories, but she does not expect to find someone hiding out in the Fort. A chance encounter of two lives in upheaval leads to a beautiful story of friendship, healing, and a cemented belief that people are not things. Sappenfield does a beautiful job at tackling important issues for middle grade students to grasp! Highly recommend!”
—Sarah Hopkins, Bookseller, Bookworm of Edwards
“A shimmering, breathtaking read! The River Between Hearts has everything I hope for in a great middle grade novel: A spirited heroine with a voice that leaps off the page, a scenic setting I want to spend time in, vivid characters, adventure, swift page-turning chapters, and heart—this book positively sparkles with emotion. Fans of Kate DiCamillo will be delighted by the wonderful tale that Heather Mateus Sappenfield has crafted!”
—Todd Mitchell, The Last Panther, Nautilus Book Award and Colorado Book Award Winner
“Rill and Perla may be very different, but the adventure that awaits them this summer will prove the opposite. The two have to repair hearts that do not know about language, social class, or race, yet the friendship that unites them will be stronger. The River Between Hearts is a clear example of what an intercultural friendship means, and the mental health of a child at 10 years of age, and the healing process that entails them. The river that took what they want the most will be the same one that will unite them in the fight to find the best in each other, in the fight to find themselves.”
—Rocio Garcia-Roa, Technical Services Specialist, Eagle Valley Library District
“Heather Mateus Sappenfield’s The River Between Hearts is a beautiful young MG that hits all the right notes: a strong heroine who’s dealing with all the changes of growing up, and has a broken heart that needs mending. This story has lots of heart, a beautiful setting, and a spirited, sweet voice make the words come alive. Perfect for fans of Leslie Connor’s A Home for Goddesses and Dogs and Laurel Snyder’s My Jasper June. The Colorado setting shines and carries you away. The River Between Hearts is a middle-grade novel not to be missed!”
—Fleur Bradley, MG author of Midnight at the Barclay Hotel, NPR Best Book of 2020
“The River Between Hearts is a beautifully written story about friendship and acceptance. Rill and Perla are heading into summer vacation dealing with their own grief and loss. They learn, ‘The best adventures…true ones…test you and teach you about yourself.’ Heather Mateus Sappenfield does a wonderful job describing the impact of immigration on children in resort communities and I look forward to sharing this novel with my students.”
—Beth Cooney, Lead Literacy Teacher, Edwards Elementary School
MPIBA READING THE WEST AWARDS, NOMINEE
IBPA BEN FRANKLIN AWARDS, SILVER MEDALIST
AUDIOFILE MAGAZINE EARPHONES AWARD WINNER
PUBLICITY: Jackie Karneth, Books Forward scroll down for MEDIA/PRESS KIT
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT LYRICS FOR ROCK STARS:
"Wow! Lyrics for Rock Stars is a rousing literary adventure set in a brilliant Colorado landscape. The western men and women in these stories ski, bicycle, race with donkeys, work on ranches, taunt bears, and run away in search of wild horses or a kind word. And then there are the children of these distraught mothers and disappointing fathers. Sappenfield’s courageous children will bring you to tears as they work their way through the messes the adults make. These vivid, muscular stories make me feel glad to be human."
—Bonnie Jo Campbell, Mothers, Tell Your Daughters, National Book Awards and National Book Critics Circle Awards Finalist
“Welcome to the beautiful state of Colorado. Meet its inhabitants. Visit all the most spectacular sites, and a few dark and scary ones too. In Lyrics for Rock Stars, Heather Mateus Sappenfield has drawn a map of Colorado and written a legend that describes the inner workings of its people’s hearts.”
—Camille T. Dungy, author of Guidebook to Relative Strangers, National Book Critics Circle Awards Finalist
"Short stories often get short thrift when it comes to critical and readerly attention, even though their short form means it is much harder to paint a convincing narrative. Heather Mateus Sappenfield manages it with Lyrics for Rock Stars, however. I read this collection of seventeen stories with high expectations, as I was aware of the author’s monumental dedication to the cause: the stories have been written over a period of two decades and have been polished so much that they resemble the glorious Colorado backdrop. Without wishing to give too much away, each story features a memorable Rocky mountains character who wrestles with a personal challenge. Some stories have a historical theme, some have contemporary settings, and their character are so diverse that I found it almost impossible to narrow the collection down to a favourite story. If forced to choose, my favourite would either be the story of the eight-year-old girl who supports her mother when her father leaves the family; or the title story in which a female opportunist meets an ageing singer and is encouraged to reinvent herself as a more honest version.
That Heather Mateus Sappenfield can write in so many registers, represent the thoughts of solid Colorado ranchers or capricious tourists, of wise centenarians or frightened eight-year-olds, is a testament to her enormous capabilities as an author. I know she has published in other genres, too, but after devouring Lyrics for Rock Stars, I am hoping she will publish further short stories, too!"
"Stepping into the stories in Lyrics for Rock Stars is like stepping into lives you already know, people you’ve lived with, or if you don’t know them already, you’ll wish you did. Writing about the inhabitants of landscapes she knows by heart, Sappenfield makes her people come alive on the page and you’ll turn each of those pages hoping for them, pulling for them, realizing, slowly, that their lives are our own. "
—Pete Fromm, A Job You Mostly Won’t Know How to Do, Five-Time Winner of the Pacific Northwest Bookseller Award
“An exploration of the inner lives of marriage and mountain towns, the stories in Lyrics for Rock Stars rise like the foothills to meet the peaks. From airport parking lots to high desert meadows, Sappenfield knows the modern West.”
—Nicole Magistro, 2015 Kirkus Prize Fiction Judge
“[‘Indian Prayer’ is] finely observed and painstakingly crafted in a way that reminds me of Thomas McGuane’s ‘A Prairie Girl’ which recently appeared in the New Yorker—only I like ‘Indian Prayer’ better. Every element has been fitted in a way that rewards even an unpracticed eye turned to the hidden stitchery of fiction.”
—The Review Review
BUZZ ABOUT LYRICS FOR ROCK STARS
Colorado Matters, Colorado Public Radio: In Lyrics for Rock Stars, Author Heather Mateus Sappenfield Reveals the Heart of the Rocky Mountains
Bookbug Kalamazoo: Bonnie Jo Campbell and Heather Mateus Sappenfield in Conversation
The Inside Flap Podcast: Mile High Burro Racing With Heather Mateus Sappenfield
GSMC Book Review Podcast: Interview with Heather Mateus Sappenfield
Big Blend Radio: A Toast to the Arts & Parks
Citywide Blackout Boston: Author Heather Mateus Sappenfield takes us on 17 journeys in "Lyrics for Rock Stars"
Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb: Q&A with Heather Mateus Sappenfield
Gina Rae Mitchell Book Spotlight: Lyrics for Rock Stars
Women's Writers Women's Books: Listening with Courage—How I Navigate Between Middle Grade, YA, & Adult Writing
The Vail Daily: Local author Heather Mateus Sappenfield Talks All Things Writing
Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Tuesday, February 9, 2021 7:00 p.m. ET
The Ivy Bookshop
5928 Falls Road
Baltimore, MD 21209
Wednesday, January 6, 2021 9:00 a.m. MST
Thursday, December 23, 2020 6:30 p.m. ET
3019 Oakland Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
Saturday, October 10, 4:30-5:45 p.m. MST
Wednesday, September 23, 2020 7:00 p.m. MST
4280 Tennyson Street
Denver, CO 80212
Monday, September 21, 2020 5:00 p.m. MST
Riverwalk Amphitheater/Bookworm of Edwards
295 Main Street C101
COLORADO BOOK AWARDS FINALIST
"This spell-binding read will keep you turning pages."
"It is intriguing to find quantum mechanics blended into a coming-of-age story ... that is rich in sensory detail and filled with dynamic characters."
“Sovern’s coming of age tale is exceptionally written. Though the book starts quietly, it’s depth, realism, and surprising sci fi twist take readers on a roller coaster of intense emotion. So, if you’re interested in a beautifully written YA book that delves into the joy of love, the pain of loss, and the very nature of reality, then Life at the Speed of Us is perfect for you. This incredible story is one you won’t soon forget!”
—HEARD > HERD: Book of the Month
"For the record, I’m always honest in my reviews. Sometimes, brutally. Have to admit: this book was different. Not at all one of your mainstream YA novels. This book is going to be with me for some time. I have always enjoyed books with strong protagonists but after reading this book realized that one doesn’t always have to be strong, you’ve got to be weak and break once (or twice) to know the difference and get back up. It also taught me a good lesson: after reading the blurb presumed it to be a classic boy-meets-girl scenario while rolling my eyes at a potential love triangle.
Ha. Boy, was I wrong. Author shattered those assumptions with a Hulk Smash.
It was rather based on Science, Physics and Maths! With references to Hawking’s, Einstein’s, Bohr’s works which was a bonus for me as I’d recently studied all about it. I absolutely loved this part! What’s interesting is that Sovern is a reluctant Math genius while being dyslexic, Sovern employs Math equations to construe her reality which is quite endearing sometimes.
In the first few chapters, the writing was a bit choppy, some misplaced punctuations made it hard to read the sentences correctly which bugged me a lot in the beginning but strangely it evens out for the rest of the book. In hindsight, this is what elucidates the fact that the protagonist was not in her best shape and state of mind during that part.
While Sovern is constantly on the path of self-destruction, not able to deal with her mother’s death, she experiences an epiphany. We see her self-destruction then see her lift out of it, constantly trying to make an effort to rise above the pain and grief which becomes so personal to the reader and I find myself cheering her on. Her worst fears, for which she even stopped speaking, unfurl again by her own hands in a cruel twist. I personally cannot imagine living with this amount of guilt that she does. Unknowingly, she sets off a chain reaction of destruction and this phrase which she uses more than often in the book was never more true. Me + anyone I love = disaster. This book was complicated in many ways and yet so intricately beautiful.”
—reviewer, Barnes & Noble
FOREWORD REVIEWS Girl Power: 15 Inspirational YA Female Protagonists
“I read this book over and over and over again. Whenever I am stressed, I find my way back to this book. It is like coming home after being away for awhile. Oona gives me so much hope and wisdom. This book is so beautifully written and I can not recommend it more strongly.”
—reviewer, Books a Million
“This is probably the best book I have ever read, it brought me to tears at some points and overall was just super amazing!!”
"One night, Oona Antunes literally splits in two. Her spirit, weary of a life lived without love or meaning, exits her body but does not leave altogether. She watches herself dance with an unwanted date, sneak out of the winter formal alone, and then curl up in the woods near her house to quietly freeze to death. But Oona’s body is found before it’s too late, forcing Oona down a path to recovery she is not convinced she wants to make. As her body heals, Oona watches herself tentatively build a new life, but she will have to face some very hard truths about herself and her family if she truly wants to live. Approaching teen suicide directly and honestly, this debut novel packs a walloping emotional punch. Alternating Oona’s first- and third-person narratives is a brutally effective device illustrating just how detached teens can feel from their own lives. Raw but with insight and tenderness, this story deftly explores life’s varied riches that come from the connections we build with others."
"Sappenfield’s writing has a delicate beauty. It is reminiscent of Francesca Lia Block, the gauzy dreamlike prose that conceals terrible truths."
"It's not everyday that one has the opportunity to learn the craft of storytelling from an award-winning novelist, but that's exactly what Heather shares with great skill and passion. She effortlessly illustrates "how to" mechanics through diverse, entertaining, immersion-based teaching strategies, and she never loses sight of participant individuality and her desire to develop each unique voice to its full storytelling potential through engagement and critique. Warm and welcoming, Heather makes readily accessible her knowledge and personal growth experiences as a writer, paving a path for others. She brings humor, insight, challenge and encouragement to her workshop; every meeting flies by, leaving participants armed with actionable tools and spirited empowerment."
—Cathleen McKinzie, Workshop Participant, Colorado Mountain College
“While hosting the teen writer’s workshop ‘The Stories You Crave,’ at the Eagle Public Library, I was so impressed how quickly Heather was able to engage the teens into brainstorming ideas that sparked their imaginations and tapped into their storytelling skills. Heather is a master storyteller herself and her ability to talk about her craft on a level the kids could relate to was inspiring and fun to watch! Thank you, Heather, for such a fun evening!”
—Dale Green, Teen Services, Eagle Valley Library District
“Heather brings passion to workshop—she loves her craft and it shows. You can hear a pin drop when she leads kids—inspiring and challenging them through prompts and storytelling. Her experience as a teacher shines through!”
—Nicole Magistro, Proprietor, The Bookworm of Edwards
As a former teacher, Heather loves visiting schools, in person or virtually. Visits for The River Between Hearts include classroom kits for teachers and fun book-centered surprises for students. To schedule a visit or just order a classroom kit, use the contact form below.
Heather Mateus Sappenfield's writing, whether fiction or nonfiction, explores the adventures that fill life, often in the Rocky Mountain landscape that has been her lifelong home. She's fascinated by the many selves each of us becomes in our varied roles throughout the day (some we like, some we do not), and her writing often delves into the interior adventure of juggling those multiple selves. She believes that taking chances daily—whether internal or external, mild or extreme—are what makes us grow and feel alive. Her own exploits have included packing up her orange, coughing AMC Gremlin and leaving home at seventeen; 24-hour mountain bike racing; backcountry ski touring; competing in the Mountain Bike World Championships; ski instructing for Vail Resorts; being a mom; and winning bicycling’s Race Across America—San Diego, California to Atlantic City, New Jersey—as part of a four-woman relay team.
What Heather loves most, though, is the adventure of writing a story. Her work has been reviewed as “…finely observed...painstakingly crafted...Every element has been fitted in a way that rewards even an unpracticed eye turned to the hidden stitchery of fiction.” Among the recognitions she’s received are the Danahy Fiction Prize, the Arthur Edelstein Prize, the V Press LC Book Compilation Prize, three Pushcart Prize nominations, and finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Award, the Kraken Prize, and the Colorado Book Awards.
Heather lives in a tiny log home in Vail, Colorado. She’s taught narrative workshops at Colorado Mountain College, Western Colorado University and Pacific University, where she earned her MFA. When she’s not writing or teaching, you'll probably find her pedaling her mountain bike or ski touring in the backcountry.
You can send me a message or ask me a general question using this form.
I will do my best to get back to you soon!