Title: Harmonic FeedbackSixteen-year-old, music- and sound design-obsessed Drea doesn't have friends. She has, as she's often reminded, issues. Drea's mom and a rotating band of psychiatrists have settled on "a touch of Asperger's."
Author: Tara Kelly
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Romance, Music
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
Release date: May 25, 2010
Having just moved to the latest in a string of new towns, Drea meets two other outsiders. And Naomi and Justin seem to actually like Drea. The three of them form a band after an impromptu, Portishead-comparison-worthy jam after school. Justin swiftly challenges not only Drea's preference for Poe over Black Lab but also her perceived inability to connect with another person. Justin, against all odds, may even like like Drea.
It's obvious that Drea can't hide behind her sound equipment anymore. But just when she's found not one but two true friends, can she stand to lose one of them?
Basic summary: Andrea -- Drea for short -- is a sixteen-year-old girl who has just moved into town with her mother into her hard-to-please grandmother's house. A new town means new people and a new school. She tries to keep it to herself, but Drea also has Asperger's and ADHD. This showcases how different she is, especially in situations with her peers; people she's never been comfortable with. She's struggled with being labeled due to her conditions, and to top it all off, her mother tries to make her life easier by telling everyone. She means well, but Drea is tired of being treated differently. Then, she meets Naomi and Justin; a rebellious purple-haired girl from across the street, and a sweet guy who takes an instant liking to Drea. Turns out they're into music, too. Good thing, because Drea is a complete music junkie -- she loves sound design, producing tracks, and playing the guitar. Music is the one thing that makes her feel free. It's through her newfound friends, Naomi and Justin, and a couple more along the way, that she discovers how being "different" can make her special and that even the people she sees as "normal" aren't as they seem.
Usually I'm hesitant to read books that deal with Asperger's or any mental illness, but seeing that this is the second book that I've reviewed within the last few weeks with the subject (albiet very different situations entirely), I'd say I'm beginning to warm up to them. It's just such a sensitive topic that I get really apprehensive to start reading. But Tara Kelly did an amazing job with Drea's voice, which was really honest and blunt. Drea's syndromes are handled with care and understanding; they shape her character and the story. In the end, though, this was a story about friendship and all the characters overcoming their own internal struggles.
Plus, I have to say... Justin? *swoon* I want one. I really loved his character and his relationship with Drea. They were so sweet! His interactions with the others and understanding of Naomi just added to his overall charm. I love a good "good guy with a past" storyline.
The music aspect wasn't as big a factor in the book as I thought it would be; I thought their band would be focused on more, but wow, when Kelly did get into the topic of music, she really got into it. You can tell that she knows her stuff and that she herself is a musician. I loved every bit of it! Sound design, especially, is something that isn't common in music fiction, so I thought that having a main character who wasn't just all about "yeah, let's start a band and get popular" was really, really awesome. These kids were passionate about it, and it was shown through just the right amount in the narrative. When Kelly described the music and their band's lyrics, it's like you can almost hear it, or have this strong urge to want to hear it.
Being a huge music junkie myself, I was really intrigued by this book. It paid off, because I couldn't put it down. I'd say this is one of my favourite reads this year. I'm also a very visual person, so if a cover is nice, I'll at least pick it up and read the synopsis. This cover is absolutely gorgeous and I was happy to know after reading it, that the image plays a part in the book. The story and the voices were captivating, the relationships were nicely paced and well-developed, the music terms were refreshing to my eyes... and yes, I cried. It takes a lot for a book to make me cry unless you're Nicholas Sparks, so 5 for you, Harmonic Feedback.
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