The Heart


A deeply touching account by a woman whose new-born son has a congenital heart defect.

The baby is diagnosed at three days old. During the weeks at the hospital following the diagnose, the mother writes in the middle of the greatest anxiety: Her baby is sick, and may die if he is not operated soon.

She withdraws from the world, existing only for her little son. Her mind clings to the physical and tangible facts: the hospital routines, the strikingly beautiful Helsinki in the winter, the handsome surgeon who is the only one to be trusted. Family, friends and everyday life are pulled backwards like a wave.

Here, everything is at stake.

The novel is based on the author’s own experiences.

 “Since then, simply being has consumed more energy. Since then, it has been harder to write, because nothing is enough. Since then, I have grasped at every single opportunity to relish the moment, like animals do: swim, eat, sweat, joke, sleep, be in the sun, in the wind. “



Original title


Year of publication


Original publisher

Förlaget M

Page count



  • Swedish YLE Literature Prize 2019


"It is simply as if the movements of the heart are pulsing through Kivelä's novel ... She cuts away everything superfluous and beautifying, writes very precisely, almost soberly; highlighting the passing everyday moments, like going out to buy cream for coffee with milk-stuffed breasts, or meeting one’s sleeping baby on the bed."
Hufvudstadsbladet, Finland
"The Heart is intense, profound and sincerely sympathetic story... The narration is simple, descriptive and heart-rending beautiful. It resembles to Maggie Nelson’s works, who the narrator names as one of her favorite writers."