Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things

HMH. Dec. 2019. 384p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781328635198.
Gr 9 Up–Edie has lived in foster homes for three years since her single mother died. Her well-off aunt finally and reluctantly steps in and offers to take in Edie “as a charitable act” until she heads off to college in the fall. The family offers a beautiful home, two squabbling cousins around the same age, access to a prestigious private school, and a modicum of support for college. Edie grits her teeth and considers the only real benefit to moving there—handsome, sweet, and smart Sebastian, the next-door neighbor. However, she’s sorely disappointed to learn that Sebastian now has a gorgeous, clingy, and jealous girlfriend. So what’s a girl to do when sexy, “bad boy” Henry turns his eye toward her and decides to make her into his next conquest? Edie develops as a character during the course of this story, demonstrating her growing maturity as she considers friendships she’s hijacked and games she’s played that backfired dramatically. She learns to accept help and to give help to others, and she discovers that maybe her aunt, uncle, and cousins aren’t so bad under their shallow outward appearances. The author shows skill in accurately portraying the conflicting needs and desires of a girl turning into a woman, both sexually and intellectually. Readers will come away rooting for Edie to succeed in college and in love.
VERDICT A fluffy Cinderella story premise reveals depth as a teen must face her circumstances and make decisions as an independent adult. Alcohol use and sexual activity make this most suitable for older teens.

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