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Reviewed by Divine Zape for Readers' Favorite
Heart Strings by Claire Merchant is a gripping young adult romance with relevant and realistic themes. Nicole Nero has grown up wanting to work for her most favorite record label and to win the affection of Elijah West, a charming and gifted musician. But she is not qualified and quickly learns that she’ll have to work very hard to be even lucky. And with poverty looming, she has to learn hard lessons and reconsider her priorities if she is going to make it. But does she have what it takes to survive in an environment that is ruthlessly competitive?
Claire Merchant writes a realistic story that will resound with many readers, especially young readers who have big dreams only to wake up to the crude reality that life can be more challenging than our dreams. The narrative begins with a protagonist who is hesitant, uncertain, and living without the conviction of a choice she's made: "I thought I knew what would make my life feel complete, but as it turned out, I had no clue what would make me happy, and all it took was for me to get what I wanted." It's a feeling that many readers will identify with and one I have had for a very long time — landing a job we have dreamed about just to find out it isn't what we have wanted all along.
The writing is clear and the author’s voice very compelling. The use of the first person reinforces the power of the point of view, and pulls readers into the worldview of the protagonist. Nicole is well developed and she feels so real in her thrills and despair; one of those characters that remind readers of something that eats them from inside. Heart Strings is gorgeously written, a fascinating read for music lovers and fans of young adult romance. While the prose is beautiful, it is the depth of emotion written into the story that will keep most readers turning the pages.