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Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things

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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.

384 pages, Hardcover

First published December 17, 2019

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About the author

Jacqueline Firkins

4 books223 followers
Jacqueline's a writer, costume designer, and lover of beautiful things. She's on the fulltime faculty in the Department of Theatre & Film at the University of British Columbia where she also takes any writing class they’ll let her into. When not obsessing about where to put the buttons or the commas, she can be found running by the ocean, eating excessive amounts of gluten, listening to earnest love songs, and pretending her dog understands every word she says.

**A note about my reviews. As is probably obvious, I post reviews primarily to celebrate other authors and their books. I won't say I love a book if I don't, but I will focus on the things I like and/or the things I think readers might want to consider when choosing if a book might be right for them. If you're looking for more critical reviews, they're easy to find on here. We live in a world where tearing people down is often celebrated more strongly than lifting them up. Consider my universal 5-star ratings and my focus-on-the-positive book reviews a teeny-tiny rebellion against that attitude, and one that only works because I'm one voice among many. Thank you to everyone who takes the time to provide thoughtful reviews, no matter the stars. And happy reading.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 396 reviews
November 5, 2019

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DNF @ p. 25

Reading this book was like the visual equivalent of hearing nails on a chalkboard. It's so saccharine and is trying way too hard. I picked this up because I heard it was supposed to be a Jane Austen retelling, but if Jane Austen is a gourmet wedding cake, this book is a plastic-wrapped Hostess cupcake.

Maybe if you like Morgan Matson and Stephanie Perkins, and the legion of other YA books featuring idiotic and ditzy leads whose manic pixie dreamgirl quirks are supposed to be endearing, you might enjoy this book. I really did try, but I couldn't stand the writing and ended up tossing it aside in disgust.


Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!  

1 star
Profile Image for Claude's Bookzone.
1,485 reviews189 followers
Shelved as 'dnf'
July 24, 2021
DNF at 32%

This is a total yearn-fest with morally questionable and unlikeable characters. I just can't continue.
Profile Image for Stay Fetters.
2,041 reviews117 followers
December 9, 2019
"Either Henry had hugged a tree recently or Lucifer endorsed cologne after all."

Everyone who knows me knows that there is one thing that will make me dislike a book and that’s for the author to make it seem like cheating is okay. This book made me think that and I almost gave up reading this book a few times but I powered through. That was such a bad idea and a waste of my time.

Edie, the female protagonist made out with her best friend's boyfriend, knowing that it was wrong. She also expected her friend to forgive her instantly. This same girl thought it was okay to pine after a guy that she grew up with knowing that he was in a very serious relationship. While using a guy (who she hates) that was into her to make this other jealous, she still used him to get this taken guy. It was pathetic and disgusting.

Throughout this book, there was cheating, mentions of cheating, and jealousy cheating. I couldn’t handle all of that. Plus it made me feel that if you have money and do these sorts of things, that it makes it okay. This is definitely not okay in my opinion.

This book was definitely not for me. I shouldn’t have wasted my time but I was hoping that Edie would finally get what she deserved. The only reason why I gave this two stars was because the characters within were obsessed with books/reading. How can you say no to that? But that’s the only thing I enjoyed.

Yes, we’ve all made mistakes but it was pretty repetitive here. There are a lot more amazing contemporaries out in the world, so don’t bother with this one.
Profile Image for Natalie.
2,392 reviews51 followers
January 6, 2020

I absolutely LOATHED the main character Edie. She was selfish and snotty, and I didn’t like the way she used everyone around her. She knew that Sebastian had a girlfriend but was still obsessed with him. Like seriously. Her crush was mentioned every few pages. She needed to halt, stop, take a chill pill, a cold shower, whatever. He was OFF LIMITS. I couldn’t stand the way she rationalized things in her mind, like, “oh, it’s okay because we’re just friends.” She did not treat him like a friend. She basically threw herself at him. Constantly. Examples - a clandestine wrestling match in his basement where she wore only a bikini, they climbed a tree and reminisced about when they were kids, she hung out in his bedroom with him, etc. Then she made herself out to be the victim when Claire (Sebastian’s girlfriend) didn’t like her.

But wait! There’s more!

Then Edie decided to fake date Henry to make Sebastian jealous. For some reason (wasn’t really clear to me) she hated Henry at first. He was funny, she was comfortable with him, they had fun together, he bought her expensive jewelry. Basically he treated her like a queen and she treated him like trash. The worst part happened when she started dating Henry for real. She literally had sex with him and dumped him the next day after Henry revealed that Sebastian and Claire broke up and he was now available. I could have reached into the book and slapped her.

Oh, and in case she wasn’t horrible enough, prior to the action of the story, she kissed her best friend’s boyfriend because she wanted to know what kissing him would be like or something (she had some weird justification for why she did it) and then couldn’t understand why her best friend wouldn’t forgive her!

Basically, she was horrible.

Okay, now for my other gripes.

What was her hangup with this guy???? He kissed her when they were 10, she didn’t see him or keep in touch with him for 7 years, but was head over heels in love with him as soon as she saw him! He was flat, dull and SPINELESS. He couldn’t stand up to his parents about not wanting to go to law school, he didn’t tell Claire that he wanted to be a writer because she didn’t think that was an impressive enough career, and he even let his mother decorate his room because he couldn’t tell her that he didn’t like the theme she picked out for him! He was a total wuss. What did she see in that loser??? He was also barely in the story and she had very few interactions with him. She spent tons of time with Henry but didn’t hesitate to break his heart and dump him the second she heard Sleazy Sebastian was available.

The other girls in the story were “mean girls” and I don’t think you were supposed to like them. But guess what??? I liked Maria, Julia and Claire a HECK of a lot more than Edie. Edie was all, “hm, why doesn’t Claire like me?” You threw yourself at her boyfriend!! Why would she like you???? I think the book tried to make Claire snotty so you could understand why Sebastian would want Edie but guess what? Cheating is NOT OKAY, regardless of whether or not the other person is snotty! Sebastian could have dumped Claire at any time but he didn’t. Cheating is still cheating - I don’t care what the personality of the girlfriend is! He was spineless for not dumping her if he wasn’t happy in the relationship.

Also, that random fight at the end with cleaning products was completely bizarre and dangerous. The best friend dumped an entire container of glass cleaner over Edie’s head. That could have seriously hurt her! It was really weird and didn’t seem to fit in with the rest of the story.

Unfortunately I did not enjoy this book at all. It was a relatively fast read and was well written, but I did NOT enjoy the way the main character justified cheating.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Fall-Out-Book-Nerd.
532 reviews55 followers
January 22, 2020
Well that was just... Not for me. I feel like it's my own fault for not reading the synopsis because I don't think I would have picked it up knowing about the completely cliché and just full of over the top cheating, bitchy girls and way too many love triangles.

I think the only reason I'm not giving this one star is because I liked some of the songs Edie wrote and think they would actually make great songs.
Profile Image for Taylor.
195 reviews17 followers
November 17, 2020
My rating/score: 2 out of 5 stars on Goodreads / 4 out of 10 on my own scoring system.
Profile Image for Yna from Books and Boybands.
747 reviews348 followers
December 18, 2019
Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things is a (sickeningly) sweet YA contemporary retelling that reminds of TATBILB and a mellowed-down version of Gossip Girl. It is also linked to be a retelling of Mansfield Park by Jane Austen, which I do not have a clue about because your girl has not read any classics at all.

Anyway, for a quick warning about the story, you must be prepared to deal with a love traingle, and rich teenagers managing their rich people problems and one little outsider in the community a la Dan Humphrey.

I, for one, have no qualms about love triangles, and I do love myself a little push and pull. I was in the mood for a cheesy cliche romance and this is what I got with this read. But though I liked most of the book, I hated the choice made by the main character, Edie. The final pick for the love triangle is not a choice that I would absolutely go for, and that choice frustrated me a lot.

Well, if I were given the chance between Henry, the playboy, and Sebastian, the boy next door, I absolutely know who would I go for. But the story is not about me, oops. I love both of these male leads, though. If you are after cute conversations, swoon-worthy quotes, and clever banter, both of these young men could deliver.

Looking at the main character, Edie, though, she wasn't really my favorite. I did not really feel a connection with her and I actually just feel 'meh' about her and the decisions she has made. Her cousins and the other characters are borderline ridiculous, but those antics made quite a story to tell. I have to admit I loved reading about all of their girlish drama.

All in all, I'm thankful for the presence of Henry because I absolutely adore his character. I know I would love the scene as long as he was there! Anyhow, this book was still a great one for a quick read and I am looking forward to the next books by this author.

🌼 Blurb:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Main Character:⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Significant Other 1: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Significant Other 2: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Support Characters:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Writing Style:⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Character Development:⭐⭐⭐☆☆
🌼 Romance: ⭐⭐⭐☆☆ 
🌼 Pacing: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Ending: ⭐⭐☆☆☆
🌼 Unputdownability: ⭐⭐⭐⭐☆
🌼 Book Cover:⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

☁ FINAL VERDICT: 3.58/5 ☁
Profile Image for Carly.
259 reviews15 followers
March 12, 2021
I'm giving this 3 stars just because I think she picked the wrong guy
Profile Image for Samantha Hastings.
Author 22 books188 followers
December 17, 2019
‘The whole delightful and astonishing truth’ is this modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park is a must read!

Edie (Fanny) Price is a foster kid who is spending the last few months of her senior year with her wealthy Aunt Norah and her two daughters. Maria and Julia (the cousins) aren’t necessarily likable but they are relatable and more complex than Austen’s original characters. Edie quotes women’s authors including Edith Wharton for whom she was named (loved that!). Sebastian, the boy next door, her old friend has a new flame, Claire. Claire and her brother, Henry, are wealthy, gorgeous, and irresistible. Edie sees Henry for the player that he is, but when she needs a friend he’s there. Even if he realizes that Edie is in love with his sister’s boyfriend. Friendship, love, family, lust, and messy relationships prove that this story is timeless (and timely). And the ultimate prize isn’t a boy... but a college dream.
Profile Image for Kerri.
595 reviews4 followers
October 15, 2019
Looks like I’m going to have an unpopular opinion here, but I wasn’t a big fan of this book. First off, there are a lot of female characters in this book, and none of them are terribly likable. Edie, the main, is really hard to get behind. She supposedly has this “unbreakable” string of attachment to Sebastian, but let’s be real here. She hasn’t seen him in YEARS. They haven’t kept in touch, and their last interaction was as children. But the first time she sees him, she’s irreversibly attached to the point where it dictates all her actions moving forward. It’s too much like instalove; there’s no real build up. And honestly, Edie and Sebastian share very few moments in the book over the course of the few months it takes place in. Most of their time is spent ignoring the other for various reasons.

The other girls are written as tropes of catty, super beautiful, self-absorbed and shallow popular girls, stooping to major lows when someone starts scoping out their man. No surprises here, no real redeeming characteristics. None of them were likable, and I didn’t want to root for anyone. Edie included. We’re supposed to feel sorry for her as the poor, picked on, charity case, but she’s not particularly nice either. Even when knowing better, she puts herself in questionable situations, and by the end it’s clear she’s leading two different guys on. Her justifications are sad, or just plain selfish. When Henry asks her if she can’t be with him because if the “other” guy, she’s says no, and that in “that moment it was true”. Just that moment? But an hour from now it may be? Sorry honey, that makes you a liar. Henry can’t ask every moment whether it is or isn’t your reason.

By the end, Edie has supposedly learned her lesson, and has changed for the better, but by then, I was too irritated with her to care. Too little too late. And then the icing on the cake; the very last line she says, once she’s about to start her freshman year of college, that she doesn’t have time for boys because she was focusing on her education. So what was the entire point of the book then?! All that drama, and now she’s “over it”. Well, so am I.

The only thing I really found myself enjoying was the lexicon entries. They were clever, and I liked them a lot. I’ve seen this book compared to To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, but it’s a flawed comparison. It lacks the same charm, the same humor, and mostly, the same heart as that amazing book.

I received an advanced copy from Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Profile Image for Ali D.
400 reviews1 follower
May 2, 2020
Madness- noun
1. An awful state of insanity
2. Losing all relationship with logic and reason
3. The suffering of my consciousness while reading this book

Oof. I rate this book two wobbly Edie's learning to walk in heels out of 10 stringless guitars.

There's a lot to discuss but, like always, let's try and stay away from spoilers.

First of all, I really don't like how no one acts their age in this book. I find it hard to believe that a bunch of high school kids or around that age are all planning their wedding and future summer homes.

Second, the most obnoxious thing is Edie (the main character) constantly reminding us how she believes she's morally above all the pettiness and lack of loyalty and trust the other characters show. Sorry Edie, you're one of the worst offenders and no better than the rest. Madness comes to mind because I can't tell you how many times I hated reading that Edie believes she's not like her cousins or the other girls. She's exactly the same whether or not she wants to acknowledge it.
It's bad enough she keeps messaging her ex best friend who clearly, not responding to Edie's messages, doesn't want to talk to her.

Third, Henry deserved. So much better. I felt so bad for him. Henry was the the only honest character of the main ones.

I make no apologies for this rant, I haven't actively disliked a book this much since reading SJM's Court of Wings and Ruin.

Granted that I'm not familiar with Mansfield park but I feel like the way this story was written it would have made more sense as an office with Edie as an intern. That way I could understand her not wanting to cause trouble or get involved in uncomfortable situations.

Profile Image for Alyssa.
79 reviews20 followers
January 6, 2020
I wanted to love this book so badly. It sounded like the exact kind of cute contemporary that would have me shouting from the rooftops for everyone to pick this up. Unfortunately, that didn't happen.

My main issue with this book were the characters. There was not a single female character worth rooting for. They were all so catty and mean and had zero concept of what a relationship/commitment was. The moment someone would look at their man they'd turn into a cast member of Mean Girls but god forbid they knew how to be faithful in their own relationship or not drag some poor soul along. Think Anna & the French Kiss but kick that up a few notches. Contemporaries are generally very character driven, so when it's hard to like anyone, it's pretty difficult to enjoy the novel as a whole.

The only things I really enjoyed was the writing and the lexicon entries. I thought both of those things were super creative and the creativity that shone through with some of the jokes/disses kept me reading. Yes, I couldn't stand the female characters, but I won't deny some of the crappy things they said were creative. I sure as hell wouldn't be able to be that clever when I'm upset about something.

Overall, this book was just of all over the place for me. I wanted to love it, I really did. But I just couldn't get past how much I disliked every single female character is a character-driven book.
Profile Image for Jessica C Writes.
547 reviews49 followers
March 16, 2020
This book was one big nope from me. From the very start, we find out that our main character, Edie, kissed her best friend's boyfriend and was caught. Red flag number one.

The rest of the book was full of emotional cheating, a very cringe-y hate to love that resulted in manipulation and borderline emotional abuse, constant girl hate, and just an overall very unlikeable protagonist.

The entire time I found myself so confused by how our main character was attracting two really nice boys, after everything she's done and put them through. Actually, I guess one of the boys wasn't so nice either cause he had a girlfriend, but that's just icing on the cake apparently.

The whole book just didn't sit well with me, and the ending was resolved so quickly that it didn't make any sense in my mind.

Unfortunately, I just can not stand for this book, and I do not support the story it tells.

*I received an e-arc in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Beth .
290 reviews215 followers
February 4, 2020
I think this is more of a 3.5 out of 5. Goodreads it is 2020, please let us have half stars. ANYWAY

This was a very solid debut and I’d love to read more from Firkins.

** I received an arc of this from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review **

It is hard to do a love triangle that is a) believable b) interesting and c) hard to have a "winner"
Personally, I didn't love this one. Maybe it's because I really believed in the couple that I felt like they were meant to be.

I did love the writing and the humor in this was great. Also, SWOON. It was adorable. I'd love to see Jacqueline Firkins write a hard hitting contemporary with no love triangle because I think it would be amazing.
Profile Image for Sana.
1,076 reviews956 followers
Shelved as 'to-read-so-bad-it-hurts'
December 23, 2019
Another Jane Austen retelling that I'd like to read because it sounds so good? Unprecedented pt. 2
Profile Image for Manda.
363 reviews
January 23, 2020
I’m quite surprised at how much I enjoyed this. I only read it because of my bookclub, otherwise I’d have never picked it up. This is a retelling of Mansfield Park..I actually had to be told that is a Jane Austen novel...that should tell you how little interest I had in reading this. Let’s be real, I only voted to read this book this month because it was the least worst of the available selections.

I loved this book from the first page. The Cinderella trope will get me every time. I love me a disadvantaged girl who thrust into high society and navigates female treachery and male seduction. I would have disliked this heaps more if it was just a modern contemporary romance because I wouldn’t be able to excuse the overdone tropes. But instead I loved the classic themes that came through. Again, I’m totally surprised because I really dislike classic
books, movies, and anything historical!

The reason I docked a star is that I found the choices Eddie made at times to be despicable. I really didn’t like how she justified her poor choices. I just can’t get 100% behind a book that I feel is excusing bad behaviour.

Overall a surprising good read, an enjoyable audiobook experience and one I’m interested to discuss the details at my next bookclub. 4.5 stars.
Profile Image for Laura Namey.
Author 6 books707 followers
July 23, 2019
I came for Jane Austen, but stayed for Jacquline Firkins and her beautiful Mansfield Park retelling. Witty dialogue, lovely prose, well drawn characters and plenty of swoon worthy moments make this a winner on my shelf, and this talented debut author a must-buy from now on. Well done!
Profile Image for Michelle .
1,998 reviews226 followers
December 16, 2019
Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things is a young adult contemporary romance by Jacqueline Firkins. This book was so stinking cute. I absolutely loved it! it is a retelling of Mansfield Park by Jane Austen. I have read almost all of Austen’s books, but Mansfield Park is one that has escaped my attention. Regardless of the fact that I have yet to read it, I was very much able to enjoy Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things, and in fact it made me want to pick up Mansfield Park to see if I enjoyed it as much as this retelling.

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things is perfect when you are looking for a fun, cheesy and sometimes angst-y young adult romantic comedy. (hint- I am almost always looking for something like this. It is a classic combo for me) In Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things, we meet our main character Edie, who goes to live with her aunt following the death of her mother. Edie is an interesting character. Though I almost immediately felt for her because of her situation, she didn’t immediately win me over. However; as the story progressed I grew to understand her better and like her more. Edie is focused when she gets to her aunt’s and will not allow the distraction of boys. Of course, this is where we enter all the adorable boys of Mansfield, planted just to try and make Edie lose sight of her scholarship aspirations. But also to provide a bit of much needed fun.

There is a bit of a love triangle in this book, so be aware of that going in, but I loved that there was a lot of emotional depth explored in Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things. Henry and Sebastian (our main love interests) are both great, and though I had a clear winner on who I was rooting for, I can easily see a case for both guys. I think readers may be split on who they ship with Edie. Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things was funny, sweet, and vastly entertaining. I really enjoyed this book. I think it would be perfect to read this holiday season when you are looking for an adorable romance.
Profile Image for MMill.
650 reviews5 followers
June 19, 2019
Edie Price has been rescued from foster care by her wealthy aunt and uncle who care more about looking like do-gooders than they do about her. She moves in with them for the end of her senior year, right next door to her childhood best friend and first crush, Sebastian. Unfortunately, he's got a girlfriend. Despite the fact that Edie can't stop thinking about him, she's absolutely not going to come between him and Claire. She distracts herself with Claire's brother, Henry, who leaves a trail of broken hearts in his wake (including the hearts of Edie's 2 cousins, Maria and Julia) and is way too charming to be taken seriously...and yet despite herself, Edie finds herself falling for him. Can she move on for real to a guy she's not sure she can trust, or will her heart keep her tied to a guy she's not sure she can have?

Full disclosure: I have never read Mansfield Park. This is a modern retelling, which meant nothing to me aside from the fact that I knew MP was widely considered to be Jane Austen's least popular book. And after reading this version, I can totally see why. Edie is a very wishy-washy character. She's kind of blah and doesn't really change through the course of the book. You want her to have learned lessons and grown up a little, and she mostly doesn't. To this author's credit, though, she DOES try to have Edie mature in the way she handles friendships and her plans for college...she worked with what she had, while still trying to stay true to Austen's original plot.

Sebastian is also kind of meh. He's mostly spineless, letting his family and his girlfriend make decisions for him. Edie's memories of him as a child with a great imagination are far more interesting than present-day Sebastian. He wears lots of wrinkled linen and secretly wants more from his life than the future as an attorney that's been mapped out for him, but he's just kind of sitting there, waiting for it all to change. LAME. But again, I will say that Firkins tried to give him a little bit of a personality when she could. She tried, but I still found Sebastian to be seriously lacking.

Now Henry. OHHHH HENRY. Henry is who this book is about. He's charming, he's swoony, and he's got a wicked sense of humor. He's definitely flawed, used to charming people into doing his bidding and using his wealth to get what he wants. But man, he is HOT. The countdown of 10 seconds as he and Edie are leaning against the house? HOLY CRAP. Nothing actually happens, but WOW so very hot. I don't think I'd be wrong in thinking that this author also prefers Henry to Sebastian (and maybe Jane Austen did, too), as he is so much more interesting and fully-formed as a character. Team Henry all the way.

BOO to Jane Austen for doing with this story and these characters what she did, because it absolutely did not go the way I wanted it to. HOWEVER. I can't blame Jacqueline Firkins for Austen's bad plot choices. So, I will say that despite knowing nothing about this story going in and kind of being pissed off throughout because I knew it wasn't going to end the way I would have chosen, I still super enjoyed it. The banter was great (I especially loved the exchange of "man walks into a bar" jokes), and even the obnoxious characters were well-written. I didn't think I was going to get sucked into this book because so many of the characters are unlikeable (damn it, Jane), but it's a testament to this author that I absolutely did.

So, to sum up: well done, Jacqueline Firkins! I'll definitely check out future books by this author.

PS...Henry was robbed.

***Thanks to NetGalley and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group for the great ARC in exchange for my honest review!***
Profile Image for Tala .
192 reviews90 followers
June 22, 2019
It’s good, it’s cheesy, and it’s good BECAUSE it’s cheesy, but honestly, rating-wise, it’s tricky to gauge just how good this was.

It’s addicting, for sure. Edie is a fine lead - she’s easy to understand, and while some of her decisions are questionable, she’s realistically messy and that, I think, is the exact point that HEARTS, STRINGS, AND OTHER BREAKABLE THINGS is trying to bring across. Did it succeed? Yep. I get it. I get its message. We’re good on that front.

On the plus side, this is addicting and totally readable (I, a slow reader, finished 90% in one sitting and would’ve read the whole thing then and there if I didn’t have to sleep), and it can join the ranks of books like Morgan Matson’s SAVE THE DATE that are meant to be adapted to the screen because it felt humorously cinematic, with a fully-fleshed-out cast of characters that are dying to be fan-cast. Dare I say it would make a better movie than book? Given that my primary issue is the writing style but not the concept, I’d say Aye.

So why dock two stars off the rating? Partly it’s a subjectivity thing - the writing style and I didn’t fully click because there were lots of weird references and weirder similes sprinkled every now and then that tried just a touch too hard to sound like Teen Speak; and the other part is the repetitive rhythm that sapped the pacing’s speed toward the middle where the plot loses a tad bit of steam and waffles for a while before it rights itself and sticks the landing.

And the ending? Let’s talk about the ending. I like it. It’s jarring and sorta non-traditional while also being just familiar enough not to stray too far from its trope. It’s satisfying, and that’s not something you can say often.

Thanks to HMH Teen for sending me an ARC for an honest review.
Profile Image for Carrie (The Butterfly Reader).
1,016 reviews91 followers
Shelved as 'did-not-finish'
January 20, 2020
I won't rate this book because I DNFed it at around 130 pages BUT I do have thoughts on what I read. So before I tear into this book, I want to say that if you loved this book, good for you. You might not want to read this review because I HATED it. I don't often have such strong emotions towards a book but this one just ruffled my feathers.

Now onto my thoughts.

Every single person in this book is a Grade A piece of shit. Edie wanted to kiss her best friend's boyfriend because she wanted to be wanted. So she let him kiss her and then is sad when her best friend is mad at her. Like WTF?! Why on earth would you kiss your best friend's guy? This is the character we follow in the book, the one we should be rooting for but I just wanted to rip her hair out and smack her in the face for being such a selfish bitch.

Not only does she kiss her best friend's guy but she's also after a guy who has a girlfriend. She even almost kisses him once knowing he has a girlfriend. Bitch. I don't even care if he's not happy with the girlfriend, he's taken! Respect boundaries you selfish chick!

Now onto the guy who has a girlfriend. He flirts with Edie even though he has a girlfriend! What a freaking asshole! I mean at this point the two deserve each other in the land of horrible cheaters.

Then there's the cousin to the main girl, she cheats on her boyfriend whom she claims to love all because the other guy is such a great kisser. Also, the guy she kisses knows she's got a boyfriend and doesn't give a rat's ass!

I'm a character-driven reader, I have to like the characters to want to read the story but I honestly hated each one we ran across. I hope none of them find happiness and then they can be shipped off to cheater hell where everyone is single so they will suffer forever.

I know that morally grey characters are totally in right now but I don't like that trend. Sorry. I like a character I can root for not one that just pisses me off. Cheating is one of my hard limits when it comes to reading and so, of course, this book wouldn't sit well with me.

The writing is great and I loved that this book wasn't clean. There was mention of sex just like real teenagers would talk about and that was something I really loved. I also enjoyed that we got to see the 'rich' people. I love those kinds of books where we take the 'poor' character and throw them into a world that they never even dreamed of.

So if you like those kinds of things and don't mind cheating characters, then you might still like this one. As for me... I'm selling it to HPB. If I had a fireplace I would've burned in my fit of rage but I can be a bit dramatic.

Profile Image for Kali Cole.
345 reviews31 followers
December 25, 2019
3.5 stars,

Although this story was filled with romantic quirks and well developed characters. I really disliked how Edie’s thoughts were kind of manipulative without her really being aware of them. I kind of connected to this love triangle thing on a deep level in terms of my previous ex and how our relationship felt like Edie’s and Henry’s and how trusting your partner and being confused in a relationship is normal and you should end it before it progresses. This book would definitely have helped me realize certain things before it was too late.

I think this book is a really beautiful read and will teach the readers something valuable. I am very thankful I was able to read this.
Profile Image for Janae.
381 reviews24 followers
February 17, 2020
I have been a book of the month member since last September and I must admit this is the first book I have actually finished from them. It's sad, I know.

I really enjoyed Edie's character in this YA/New Adult book. She clearly has some inner conflicts with herself. Watching her find out who she is, and wants to be, was such a validating thing. Obviously boys had a heavy influence in the novel, but I feel the underlying message of accepting yourself was also pretty clear.
Profile Image for A Book Shrew.
577 reviews128 followers
May 19, 2021
Joke time. So, a girl walks into a bar ... which hurt because she had her nose stuck in this book and couldn't see where she was going. I know what you're thinking and I disagree with you. Because I'm hilarious and delighted with this book.

Full review and blog tour stop at A Book Shrew

I realize I sound like a broken record in saying this, but contemporary YA romances are a hard sell for me. I rarely relate, get irritated by how irritating the main characters tend to be, and the predictability has me bored by the fourth chapter. Needless to say I feel like I take my own life in my hands whenever I risk cracking one open. I love being proven wrong and shown there are literal gems in this genre. It was a slow start to get into, but soon I was barely able to put this down.

This is a modern retelling of Jane Austen's novel Mansfield Park, which is what piqued my interest in this book in the first place. I read Mansfield too many years ago to remember what happened, so I can't accurately speak to how loose of a retelling this is plot-wise. However, after a quick Google, I can immediately pick out the comparisons. The town where the story takes place is, obviously, Mansfield. The main character is Edie Price, not Fanny, but she is sent to live with her wealthy aunt and uncle. There are also a few plot lines as well that seem to line up quite similarly.

Edie was a great character. She was surprisingly easy to love and never annoying or ridiculous in the dilemmas she has to deal with. The book starts with her basically coming into a brand-spanking new life. She is still grieving for her mother and she's left a foster situation to move to a highly swanky posh town. New school, only her cousins and their friends, feeling inadequate and uncomfortable in most settings they relish in. Her childhood crush is with someone else while someone else is pursuing her in a way she wishes they wouldn't. Honestly, everything of her journey in this book was so relatable. Who hasn't had those awkward, blush-inducing moments with their crush? I got a little irritated with her obsession with the classics because of course she does, but then admonished myself hard when I remembered half the books I read in high school were by Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. Can't quote them off the top of my head, but I devoured them just the same.

Please be aware that there is a love triangle in this book. In fact, it features quite heavily. As a rule, I do not care for love triangles. I find them pointless and stress-inducing. Not the case here. This was done amazingly well. Edie was given the chance to grow and explore either side of her relationships without some puffed up jealous dude barging in and forcing her to make stupid decisions out of fear or love. I'm also very stoked that Firkins ensured that the concept of consent and protection was understood. There is a lot of sex-positivity and I could not love that more.

What lost the star for me was the ending, and this is just a personal opinion. Without giving anything away, I basically fell in love with the wrong dude and I think Edie chose wrong. And given who she did not pick, I'm surprised I fell for him as I did because in theory he should be absolutely the wrong kind of guy for me. I also struggled a little with the age gaps between some characters. Some may consider it a silly thing to be bothered by, but it felt super odd when Edie's cousin hasn't even graduated high school yet but she's engaged to someone who is finishing Harvard.

e-ARC provided by HMH Books and FFBC
Profile Image for Dana Al-Basha |  دانة الباشا.
2,148 reviews771 followers
June 23, 2020
A modern retelling of Mansfield Park but it's way drier and Edie Price is not as meek and mousy as Fanny. I really wanted to like this book, but I felt that the author didn't understand Fanny at all when she portrayed the story. She made the story way too Americanized and unreal. Even in modern-day, Maria would have been horrible to Fanny. It has nothing to do with our time and age, it's a status and power relationship. The changes the author made didn't make the story as deep as the original. Let's not forget that Austen's books were written for women, even if they are read vastly now and considered classical... all her heroines are young women.

First, the writing though lyrical wasn't for me, secondly, Fanny is seriously good and has a really kind heart, that doesn't make her a simpleton or unmodern, take it from me, I was like her as a young girl, too innocent and too pure, I wouldn't have understood the other girls my age. The author's Edie, on the other hand, isn't kind, she is jealous, self-conscious, unconfident, and frankly, kind of mean sometimes.

Fanny's character was established from the start, as a poor young relative, who wasn't wanted by her family, she was made to feel this way in Mansfield Park, because that's the way of life sometimes, sadly. She learned to hold her tongue, to be meek, to be amiable, not to forget she isn't like her cousins. I understand the other changes the author made, from a modern point of view, like changing the boys from her cousins to their neighbors, I understood her fascination with Henry Crawford, many people wondered why Austen didn't care for wicked boys, I understand how she portrayed the Bertrams and Crawfords, but still, the story as a whole felt off to me, like watching A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish (that's the movie I kept seeing in my head while reading)... do you know what I mean? It felt juvenile and fake somehow.

December 14, 2019
Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things

This book was exactly what I needed right now. I have been reading emotionally charged novels lately and needed something on the lighter side. This is a retelling of Mansfield Park. After spending three years in foster care after the death of her mother, Edie is moving in with her uncle, aunt, and two cousins. She knows that this is only temporary until she graduates high school and heads out to college in the fall. Soon after moving in, she rekindles her friendship with Sebastian, the cute next-door neighbour and she discovers that she has strong feelings for him. Sebastian is dating Claire and their relationship is pretty serious. Edie tries her best to stay away but he is like a magnet and she keeps wanting to see him until she meets Henry, Claire’s brother. For a while, she stays away from Henry because she thinks he is a player, but he proves her wrong. Edie is caught between her love for Sebastian and Henry. Who will she choose?

The story is light and fun. There are the usual teenage drama and all the ups and downs of teenage love. This is a fantastic novel.

🙋🏼‍♀️ Thank you RainCoast Books for sending me an ARC of this lovely novel. Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins will be available at your favourite bookstore on December 17th.

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Profile Image for Lisa.
828 reviews480 followers
December 8, 2019
This was a delightfully light and romantic read! It’s loosely based on Jane Austen’s novel Mansfield Park.

A lot is modernized obviously, including a few bits I wish hadn’t been, but I appreciated the addition of a sort of slow burn family relationship. It was sweet and genuine and heart-warming.

Some of the changes from the original story involved the romance, and those - to me - were the most clunky and disappointing. I think the end was rushed into trying to get the right people together, which made me wonder if they should be...

Overall, this was a fun contemporary retelling with lots of heart and family!
Profile Image for Georgiana 1792.
1,802 reviews106 followers
November 26, 2022
Un buon retelling di Mansfield Park molto moderno, e con alcune piccole variazioni. Edie Price è figlia unica e sua madre è morta da poco. La madre era rimasta incinta al ballo scolastico e non ha potuto diplomarsi, ma poi il padre ha abbandonato lei e la figlia piccola. La madre - che era una musicista - ha inculcato a Edie l'amore per la musica. Sua zia Norah l'ha presa in casa come opera di beneficienza, per cui rifiuta di far lavorare Edie, che in questo modo sarà costretta a rinunciare alle sue ambizioni universitarie, perché non ha da parte soldi a sufficienza per permettersele. Fin da quando era piccola, Edie ha trascorso con la madre le vacanze estive a Mansfield, per cui ha già un rapporto con le cugine Maria e Julia e con i vicini di casa, Tom e Sebastian. Con quest'ultimo ha sempre avuto un'amicizia particolarissima, che cinque anni prima ha portato addirittura a un bacio dato per gioco (quando erano due dodicenni). Ma adesso Sebastian è fidanzato con la ragazza più cool della scuola, Claire Crawford, mentre suo fratello Henry fa strage di cuori tra tutte le ragazze. Edie diffida subito di lui - le sembra affascinante come un vampiro - anche se è evidente che - malgrado pascoli in diversi campi, anche in quello di Maria, che però è fidanzata con Rupert - Henry fin ha da subito un interesse piuttosto serio per Edie, forse perché ha capito già che Edie è inconquistabile, dal momento che è innamorata di Sebastian, e quindi sente il richiamo dell'impossibile come una sfida.
Alla fine, il personaggio di Henry non è affatto negativo come in Mansfield Park, anzi; mentre Claire, ottusa quando si tratta di Sebastian e dei suoi sogni malgrado sia intelligentissima in altri casi (ma questo forse dipende dal fatto che non vuole assecondare le sue aspirazioni letterarie e vorrebbe una più sicura carriera da avvocato per lui), è la classica ragazza meschina che bullizza colei che considera sua rivale, ma alla fine è lei stessa la sua rivale!
Molto bello, invece, il rapporto che si costruisce tra Edie e le cugine, soprattutto Maria, che diventano per lei come autentiche sorelle.

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