Colorado Book Award Finalist
Housatonic Award for Middle Grades & Young Adults, 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." —VOYA
“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 Usis 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!!” —reviewer, Amazon
"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." —Booklist
"Sappenfield’s writing has a delicate beauty. It is reminiscent of Francesca Lia Block, the gauzy dreamlike prose that conceals terrible truths." —Voya
"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
H. E., Heather Sappenfield’s writing, whether fiction or nonfiction, for adults or teens, often reflects the Rocky Mountain landscape that has been her lifelong home. It’s literary fiction that is easy to read, reviewed as “deceptively simple, yet a closer look will often reveal layers of technique and meaning.” She calls it, “commiterary” because it often eludes categories.
Heather lives in a tiny log home in Vail, Colorado, where she teaches narrative workshops at Colorado Mountain College. She has also taught for the MFA programs at Western Colorado University and Pacific University. When she’s not writing or teaching, you might find her pedaling her mountain bike along Vail’s backcountry trails or schussing down its back bowls.
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!