Review: Hearts, Strings and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins

“That’s the hardest thing about loving someone. You only get to choose how you love them, not how they love you back.”
– Jacqueline Firkins

Title: Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things
Author: Jacqueline Firkins
Release Date: December 17, 2019
Publisher:  HMH Books
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Pages: 384

Thank you to HMH Books for an advanced finished copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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.

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Hearts Strings and Other Breakable Things is a modern day retelling of Mansfield Park. Mansfield Park is one of Jane Austens’ most disliked books and now I know why if it’s anything like this retelling. Beware of spoilers ahead, I don’t know how to write a review without any since the synopsis gives us nothing.

➽ Edie – After losing her mom she’s been bouncing around the foster care system until one day her aunt and uncle decide to adopt her. She returns to the town her and her mother swore they’d never set foot in again, Mansfield. It’s a rich area where she sticks out immediately which her two cousins point out to her immediately. Edie has a lot of anger towards her family who are only trying to help. Her goal is to focus on school, get a good scholarship and absolutely no boys. But then she runs into the boy next door who she has always crushed on. Not to mention the annoying but hot boy she meets at her her first party who won’t leave her alone because he likes a challenge.

➽ Sebastian – The boy next door with no spine. He has a girlfriend but constantly flirts and hangs out with Edie. He doesn’t want the life his parents or his girlfriend have set up for him but never stands up for what he wants either. He is a forgettable character with a wet-blanket personality to match.

➽ Henry – The hottie man-whore who can’t take no for an answer, unless it’s in response to consent. He’s all over Edie from the start, along with both of her cousins… sharing is caring? He actually grows on me but we don’t know anything about him except for he’s graduated from high school and is brother to Sebastian’s girlfriend. Oh and he’s funny, hot, and a good kisser.

This contemporary YA hits all the pitfalls of bad contemporaries. Love triangle, insta-love, characters that aren’t well rounded and utterly forgettable. The only reason this gets two stars is because I finished it and Henry. He goes from this hot douchebag of a man whore to this sweet and kind boy who was hiding behind a wall built up to protect himself. I loved his transformation and was sad to see it go to waste.

The love triangle was bad. Sebastian has a girlfriend but is doing some shady crap behind her back which is something I strongly dislike in contemporaries. Cheating is never okay. He strings both girls along with no regards to either’s feelings. Then we get the fake relationship to real relationship with Edie and Henry. I liked them together and if Edie had been all in instead of holding back and waiting for Sebastian they could have had something real. Instead it’s two half-a**ed relationships.

Beyond the romance aspects we have Edie herself and her relationships with her cousins, Maria and Julia. Edie is fickle, rude and ungrateful. Her cousins try to be her friend and help her fit in. There is no effort on Edie’s part to make her new life work or even be nice to her cousins. Maybe her aunt and uncle took her in for the wrong reasons, but her cousins wanted her there. Then again they were all sharing the same guy so there is bound to be a little tension in those relationships. How hard is it to be nice though?

Edie finished the book the same girl she had started as. I didn’t see any character growth on her part. Even her last words are similar to her first words when she arrives in Mansfield. She annoyed me to no end and if it weren’t for Henry I would’ve DNF’d this book. *SPOILER* After the whole love triangle, dumping Henry for Sebastian, and making Sebastian win her back she goes off to college and decides she “doesn’t have time for boys” and is “focusing on her education.” Okay then what was the whole last part of this book. I wanted to strangle her.

After all this hate I’ve been heaping on I feel like I should discuss what this book got right. Consent. While a bit of a man-whore, Henry had consent down. So while white and entitled he wasn’t down with just taking what he wanted. Consent has been coming up a lot in contemporary YA novels lately and I’m here for it.

So yeah I basically hated this book and unless you actually like Mansfield Park I’d pass this over for another contemporary that doesn’t want to make you pull your hair out.

Disclaimer: All quotes used in this review are taken from an advanced copy and may be changed from those that appear in the final version. Quotes will be updated to reflect such changes, if any.

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