HEARTS, STRINGS, AND OTHER BREAKABLE THINGS, by Jacqueline Firkins, HMH Books for Young Readers, Dec. 17, 2019, Hardcover, $17.99 (young Adult)
Mansfield Park gets a new look with Jacqueline Firkins’ Heart, Strings, and Other Breakable Things.
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 suburban mothers 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. She’s got her own plans, and they don’t include any prince charming.
But as she dives into schoolwork and getting a scholarship for college, Edie finds herself drawn to two Mansfield boys strumming for her attention: First, there’s Sebastian, Edie’s childhood friend and first love, who’s sweet and smart and . . . already has a girlfriend. Then there’s Henry, the local bad boy and all-around player who’s totally off limits—even if his kisses are chemically addictive.
Both boys are trouble. Edie can’t help herself from being caught between them. Now, she just has to make sure it isn’t her heart that breaks in the process. —Synopsis provided by HMH Books for Young Readers.
The problem with reimagining classic novels is that those novels are beloved. Add in an author like Jane Austen, and the bar is hard to reach. And based on other Jane Austen adaptations, Mansfield Park seems to be the one people struggle with the most.
Heart, Strings, and Other Breakable Things doesn’t hit the mark. While I didn’t hate it, and made my way through the entire thing, it wasn’t what I’d consider satisfying.
I struggled with Firkins’ characters. No one is particularly likeable, including the heroine. They all come across as self-absorbed and crass. And while I’m sure real teenagers talk about sex, I sincerely hope they don’t spend every waking moment consumed by it.
What makes this book readable is Firkins’ writing, which is clean, precise and sets a mood. If only the characters were worth rooting for. I suggest this as a library read instead of a purchase.
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