Thursday, November 18, 2010

Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly

by Tara Kelly
Henry Holt and Company

Sixteen-year-old, music- and sound design-obsessed Drea doesn’t have friends. She has, as she’s often reminded, issues. Drea’s mom and a rotating band of psychiatrists have settled on “a touch of Asperger’s.”
Having just moved to the latest in a string of new towns, Drea meets two other outsiders. And Naomi and Justin seem to actually like Drea. The three of them form a band after an impromptu, Portishead-comparison-worthy jam after school. Justin swiftly challenges not only Drea’s preference for Poe over Black Lab but also her perceived inability to connect with another person. Justin, against all odds, may even like like Drea.
It’s obvious that Drea can’t hide behind her sound equipment anymore. But just when she’s found not one but two true friends, can she stand to lose one of them?

A few posts back we talked about issues books - those that were centered around some sort of major issue faced by teens today. One of the big 'issues' that has been popular lately is autism or Asperger's Syndrome.

But, wait! This is not one of those! Yes, Drea is somewhere in the Aspergers spectrum, but we can say that just as we say she is a musician. Or that she has moved a lot. Or that her grandmother is crotchety. Oh, or that she is a teenager! All of those things are just a part of who she is, and while all of them contribute to her personality and struggles, none of them is the entire sum of who she is. That is just one of the many reasons we absolutely loved this book.

Kelly, in fact, says it even better in her author's note:

"I'd like to start off by saying that this book is not about defining Asperger's Syndrome (AS) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). It's about one girl's story and experience - which I hope everyone (whether on the autistic spectrum or not) can relate to."

Teens can definitely relate to Drea's story - the struggle to make and keep friends, trying to fit in in a world that seems totally alien, first relationships, drugs, abuse, family problems, etc. Musicians will love the music aspect of the story, but non-musicians won't feel lost. And the cover! Doesn't that just make your hand automatically reach out to open it up and check the description?

Fantastic and refreshing addition to the YA shelves from yet another debut writer. We give it a

5 out of 5.

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