Genre: Young Adult Contemporary
Format/pages: Library book, Hardcover 278 pages
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
I was inspired to check out Harmonic Feedback from the library after reading the author’s latest book Amplified. I think books that incorporate music are awesome and Amplified is one of the better ones out there. Harmonic Feedback is a quick read, with strong, colorful characters, and it addresses some interesting issues such as social disorders, drug use and rehabilitation, and what it’s like to be an outsider who just wants to fit in. I found this book very readable and addictive and just what I was looking for.
The premise is that 16-year-old Drea moves around a lot with her mom, and they have recently settled in with Drea’s grandmother in Bellingham, Washington. Drea loves music and is a producer in the making, but has had a hard time striking up friendships. She has ADHD and a mild case of Asperger’s that make her say exactly what she thinks. She’s taking an assortment of prescription drugs to manage her symptoms as best she can. She has been labeled a freak and an outsider in her former schools, and written off by her peers. At her new school, though, she catches the eye of two other students who think she’s pretty cool. Naomi and Justin are also music obsessed and even want to form a band with Drea. They are the first real friends she’s ever had, and the first ones to treat her as normal. So now Drea wants to continue to fit in, and is scared to tell them about her issues, worried that they would interfere with this new blossoming friendship/potential romance.
Drea is such an interesting character that is easy to relate to. Who hasn’t felt like an outsider at some point? She has a checklist in her head of the right, socially acceptable way to behave, and tries her best to keep up even when it doesn’t make sense to her. Her behavior rang very true to me, and I found her such an endearing main character. I felt I could understand her very well and felt her struggles as she strived for acceptance. Her voice was very original and refreshing.
Drea’s friend Naomi has some troubles of her own, and is all over the place with her emotions. She’s up one minute and down the next. I loved that she connected so well with Drea and liked that Drea was real and honest with her. In a way she reminded me of Rayanne Graff of My So-Called Life, just someone looking for love and attention but making some bad decisions along the way.
Justin, like Drea and Naomi, is another person looking for a fresh start. He is so sweet with Drea, and a great guy for her. Nice to see a genuinely nice love interest! Drea’s mom and grandmother are also good characters, and it’s nice to see so many types of family relationships represented in the book.
Music is a thread that runs throughout the story, whether Drea and Justin are arguing about the bands they like, or deciding on a sound for their band, or playing instruments, and it complements the story very well.
I loved reading this book and found it such a fulfilling story, though sad at times. Tara Kelly’s writing made me feel like I was there with Drea, feeling uncomfortable, awkward and embarrassed right along with her at times. The writing, authentic characters, story, and pacing all made the book an original and engaging read. The author’s note mentions that this is not an issues book about AS & ADHD but is about one girl’s story and experience, and I think many will be able to relate to Drea. Tara Kelly is such a talented writer and I can’t wait to read more of her books.
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