The River Between Hearts | Heather Mateus Sappenfield


The River Between Hearts by Heather Mateus Sappenfield

Coming February 1, 2022 from Fitzroy Books/Regal House; 162 pages

Content Warnings: death of a parent, immigration, deportation, grief, racism, violence and fighting, mentions of drugs and murder, CPR administration

About the Author: “HEATHER MATEUS SAPPENFIELD” loves adventures, especially in the Rocky Mountain landscape that’s been her lifelong home. As part of women’s teams, she’s won 24-hour mountain bike races and road bicycling’s Race Across America—San Diego, California to Atlantic City, New Jersey. She’s also competed in the Mountain Bike World Championships; ski instructed for Vail Resorts, and loves backcountry ski touring. Her toughest adventures, though, arise in the writing of stories. She is the author of two contemporary YA novels, “The View from Who I Was” and “Life at the Speed of Us,” a Colorado Book Awards Finalist. Her story collection, “Lyrics for Rock Stars,” released as winner of the V Press LC Compilation Book Prize, was nominated for the MPIBA’s Reading the West Awards, was a silver medalist for the IBPA’s Ben Franklin Awards, was featured on Colorado Public Radio, and was awarded a SOVAS award for excellence in audiobooks. Her most recent book, “The River Between Hearts,” runner-up for the Kraken Prize, is a middle grade novel about friendship and healing. For more information, visit” (Bio provided by the author’s publicist.)

Find Heather Mateus Sappenfield on the following platforms:

“I’d believed—needed to believe—Dad was trying to get home. The same way Perla’s dad was trying to get back. But that river’s blue line was so long. And I’d waited so long.”

It’s the start of summer break, but third grader Rill Kruse isn’t feeling very relaxed. She hasn’t felt relaxed since her dad went missing in the river over a year ago. Even though her family has accepted that he’s not coming back, Rill is holding out hope that he will. When Rill is led to her tree fort by her mischievous cat, Clifford, she finds something that she wasn’t expecting—a girl from her class. Perla has been hiding out in the fort, and Rill decides that she’s going to help her stay safe. Together, Rill and Perla develop a friendship, while coming to terms with their own traumas and learning what it means to be compassionate.

The River Between Hearts is a tender exploration of grief, loss, compassion, and friendship. I felt very connected to Rill’s journey dealing with and accepting her father’s death. Her emotions were very raw, and they reminded me a lot of my own feelings and experiences with grief. One of the things I enjoyed most about this book was watching the friendship between Rill and Perla blossom. There were sweet, wholesome moments of bonding between the two little girls, but there were also times where they made mistakes and hurt each other. Their relationship was beautiful and imperfect. The emotional growth that both characters go through over the course of the novel was so incredibly heartwarming. While my heart hurt for the losses both Rill and Perla had to endure, I was so glad to see them come out on the other side as more thoughtful, compassionate people. Rill and Perla are the types of characters that are going to stick with me for a long time.

The River Between Hearts releases on February 1, 2022.

(Pine Reads Review would like to thank the publisher for providing us with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Any quotes are taken from an advanced copy and may be subject to change upon final publication.) 

PRR Writer, Sadie Cruz