Today’s review post is a rant in disguise. Well not really, since I’m telling you exactly what I’m about to do. I just want to warn everyone one that there will be spoilers in this review. I just can’t talk about this book without giving away some big details, so I will be sure to highlight when I get super spoilery!
In the summer, I participated in Raincoast Books’ YA Winter preview. Basically, I drooled over all the books that I added to my TBR right then and there. One such book was a contemporary book based on Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, sprinkled with some Narnia references and I was like oooooooooooo. But then the bomb dropped–this book has a love-triangle and I was like nnnnooooooooooo. And yet…I gave it a shot. I thought to myself, I won’t get attached, I’ll enjoy the drama while I can, I won’t get attached, I’ll take in stride the Narnia references, I WON’T GET ATTACHED!!!!!!!
And guess, guess what I did? I got attached and got hurt.
Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins
Pub Date: Dec 17th, 2019
Publisher: HMH Teen
In this charming debut about first love and second chances, a young girl gets caught between the boy next door and a playboy. Perfect for fans of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.
Mansfield, Massachusetts is the last place seventeen-year-old Edie Price wants to spend her final summer before college. It’s the home of wealthy suburbanites and prima donnas like Edie’s cousins, who are determined to distract her from her mother’s death with cute boys and Cinderella-style makeovers. Edie has her own plans, and they don’t include a prince charming.
But as Edie dives into schoolwork and applying for college scholarships, she finds herself drawn to two Mansfield boys who start vying for her attention. First there’s Sebastian, Edie’s childhood friend and first love. He’s sweet and smart and . . . already has a girlfriend. Then there’s Henry, the local bad boy and all-around player. He’s totally off limits, even if his kisses are chemically addictive.
Both boys are trouble. Edie can’t help but get caught between them. Someone’s heart is going to break. Now she just has to make sure it isn’t hers.
The Non-Spoilery (Very Short) Review
This was a fairly entertaining book. The characters were well defined, interesting and flawed. Oh were they flawed, they’re also teenagers so we cut them some slack. The love triangle, was a love triangle in more ways than one, trust me. The friendship aspect was a little lacking, which kind of bothered me. It was funny and charming, even though I had my issues with it. I’m sure people who actually enjoy the drama of love triangles will enjoy this immensely. I know that population is few, but it is mighty.
The Spoilery RANT
I knew from the beginning that the childhood crush was going to be the one she ended up choosing. I knew, I knew, I knew. I didn’t actually know for sure, but my heart was set. I knew that from the very first chapter the chemistry between them was still very strong and that were gonna end up together. Lord, did I know. But I am a dumb bitch, and I say that in the most loving way to myself, and I stupidly fell for the other guy. BECAUSE I”M DUMB!
Okay let’s go character by character:
Edie: A vert interesting, unique character…..um. Sure. I really liked that she had her passions, she stuck to them, and she stumbles along the way like every teen girl who is still not 100% sure who she is. I really enjoyed her character, and the struggles she went through. Especially living with estranged family who is not exactly the most loving–not that they treat her bad, just differently. Her approach to life was very literary, literally. She would live by her some of her favourite quotes from classic literature. Not the best way to live life, but she does learn key things and I really enjoyed her growth in the novel. To sum it all up, I liked her well enough. Can’t say I loved her, but I didn’t hate her either.
Sebastian: What a fucking loser. AHHHH the freaking childhood crush, that gets the girl despite the fact that he is very much a loser. And I am being very cruel right now. He is not actually (that much of) a loser. Most of my resentment comes from the fact that he is the reason for the downfall of my ship, but if I am being completely honest, he was the better match for Edie. So why did I dislike him so much…well I found that I related to him way to much. The personal identification is strong with this one.
Narnia-obsession? Yeah, boy.
Having writer dreams? I’m guilty of.
Not meeting those familial expectations? Same here.
Having no real solid plan for what they want in life? Hey there, man.
He was so wishy washy throughout the whole novel. I just couldn’t stand him for most of the novel. Bleh. His struggles may have hit home, but my god he was miserable and I didn’t really reading the book when he walked onto the page. He was just so frustrating ugh. So yeah, he’s a loser. Just like me.
Henry: Another fucking idiot, but lord help me I fell hard and fast and I honestly worry about my future self. He was the charming, suave bad boy, who was most definitely a man-hoe. And I can’t believe I fell for him. He is literally the definition of fuck boi, plus he doesn’t have any actual career plans other than spending his parent’s money. Yes, he has a soft more passionate side. And he works for what he wants, but he is still an entitled white, rich boy–and I can’t believe I fell for it. BUT I DID OKAY. And I really enjoyed it whenever he was on the page!
I was so mad when Edie broke up with him! Like ah he was giving her all and she was like you’re fun but I love Sebastian bla bla bla. I just couldn’t.
Now we have to talk about Maria…who…No. Just no. Look, Maria is a terribly flawed character that keeps getting forgiven when she should not. OH MY GOD. I get it she’s a side character she’s not supposed to have that much growth, but her behaviour was not okay and she is absolved for being “family”. Um, excuse me? No. She is constantly talking down on Edie and her humble choice of wardrobe etc. Not having a filter is whatever, but choosing to constantly demean others around you is not cool. She repeatedly cheats on her boyfriend and blames him for allowing her and when he finally grows the spine to break up with her, she wallows in self-pity with no actual remorse for the hurt she caused. She was sexting Henry while he was dating Edie!!!! If I found out my cousin had been sexting my boyfriend to seduce him and ignored his constant rejections, I would not let that slide on the basis of being family. That is not okay. But you know what Edie forgives Maria cuz they cousins. Her punishment? Selling old clothes for college funds, she doesn’t even ever sincerely apologize. I couldn’t, this was so toxic!
Aside from the romance and Maria, I enjoyed the events of the novel. Was it anything profound and incredibly inspiring? Not really. This was a novel full of rich white people about rich white people problems so I was really here just to poke fun and engage in their drama! I can’t say that it is completely inaccessible and some of the troubles that the kids face do have their moments, especially the struggles in keeping up friendships and relationships. Choosing who you want to be and not letting others or the past dictate who you will become. Those were the heartfelt moments that I really liked reading about. The pacing was good, although I felt like it was dragging towards the middle when things were just kind of hanging on and stalling while we built this lovely relationship just to crush it.
Overall, this book was fine. I can’t say I loved it, but I didn’t dislike it either! It has its ups and downs, it has a love triangle which is a little obvious, but sometimes you still fall for the traps that authors set. The characters are well written even though some are quite flawed and needed some–lots–of growth. I’ve never read Mansfield Park, but I hope it does Jane Austen justice!
Rating: 3 / 5 stars
Recommend?: Uhhh I guess its whether you really like the love triangle or want to give that trope a try, then why not!?
Let me know what you think! Have you read this? What are some of your favourite or not-so-favourite tropes? What are you more into the childhood friend or bad boy/girl?