Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things Review // A Fluffy Fun Romance With Little Substance


Title // Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things

Author // Jacqueline Firkings

Publisher // HMH Books for Young Readers

Publication Date // December 17th 2019

Synopsis //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.


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My Rating: ★★★☆ (3.5)

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Many thanks to HMH for sending me a free ARC in exchange for an honest review. 

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This book was basically like a sponge cake. All the fun and fluff and sweetness, but no real substance. Objectively I would consider it to be pretty average, not exceptionally great but not bad either, but in terms of enjoyment, this was super cute and so enjoyable!

It’s no secret that I love retellings, so when I saw this retelling of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, one of her books that I’ve actually read, I knew that I had to get my hands on it!  I think Mansfield Park is considered by many to be Jane Austen’s worst work, and there are certainly a few things that weren’t my favorite that found their way into this retelling. I kind of wish a few of these things had been changed for a looser retelling, but it unfortunately stuck pretty close–in fact, this entire book stuck to the original story very closely (albeit changing Fanny’s love interest/cousin to the boy next door which is great because yay 2019 we don’t love incest).

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On the other hand, there were parts of the original book that I loved, including the fun romantic story, and the crazy whirlwind that comes with the Crawfords! I loved seeing the old timey story adapted to a modern setting, with parties and prom instead of those old balls, talk of pretty dresses in modern fashion adapted from amazing Victorian dresses, and just Edie’s adaptation to her new life with her cousins. I’ve read tons of fairy tale retellings but not so many of classics, so I really loved getting this unique retelling!

And don’t worry if you haven’t actually read Mansfield Park–you can still enjoy this story without it (and frankly, I would recommend just looking up a Wikipedia summary of the original if you’re not down to read it but still want to see how the retelling mirrors the original–I’ve definitely done that before).

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Fanny can be a bit uptight in the original, but Edie was definitely looser and more fun here! She was a cute romantic, dreaming out romantic schemes in her mind. I also liked how focused she was on future and planning for college–this is set in her last semester of high school, and she’s definitely taking charge of her education, worrying about getting a job to pay for college and being adamant that smart girls should be just as “attractive” as pretty girls–we’re worth more than our looks! I very much appreciated this as a Ravenclaw myself haha.

She’s also rather bookish, and collects quotes, so fellow book lovers will love her! This book is full of quotes, many traded back and forth between her and Sebastian, the boy next door, both bookish quotes and just other quotes about life, and I loved reading those!

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One thing that I was a little annoyed by was the fact that Edie always talks about how smart she is, and it’s even revealed that she got into Yale, but aside from knowing random quotes, I feel like I never actually get to see her being studious. Obviously it’s a contemporary romance so that’s the main focus, but there are almost no scenes at school, and I don’t think there are any scenes of her actually studying, so although I appreciated how she championed for girls being worth more than our looks, it felt a bit like telling rather than showing, a bit like the author was trying to beat us over the head with the idea rather than integrating it into the story.

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But the book isn’t mainly about that, it’s about the romance, so let’s talk about that! I normally don’t like love triangles, but this book was compared to To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, which is one of my all time favorites and has a love triangle, so of course I wanted to read it!! Since I know many of you guys love TATBILB too, I’ll let you know that the comparison to the romance was perfectly valid and I found myself drawing many similarities that I loved! So if you loved that book, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this one as well!

There’s the boy next door, Sebastian, and the more archetypical “bad boy,” Henry, and Edie finds herself drawn to both of them! And what I didn’t know before but loved was there was the fake dating trope, which I’m absolute trash for! I loved the romantic moments, and honestly, there were things from both guys that I liked.

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Unfortunately, I was not a huge fan of the ending of this book. I was definitely on Team Loosing Guy, and from the way the book and characters were written, I suspect that a lot of other people will be too. Despite liking Edie for most of the book, I found her actions at the end to be rather cruel, and didn’t really like her at the ending.

Overall, as I said in the beginning, this is a pretty fun fluffy book. There’s little substance besides the fluffy romance, and the deeper themes and meanings felt kind of shallow, not fully developed and leaning more on telling than showing in favor of giving more time to the romance–I would say that this book has all of the cute fun romance from TATBILB but almost none of the deeper substance and meaningful themes. It was SO much fun to read though, and I definitely liked picking it up at the end of long stressful days to just sink into. It’s not going on any all time favorites lists, but it was fun to read and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a light, quick, fun contemporary!


3 thoughts on “Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things Review // A Fluffy Fun Romance With Little Substance

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