Title: Harmonic Feedback
Author: Tara Kelly
Publisher: Henry Holt BFYR
Pub. Date: 5/25/10
Genre: Contemporary YA
Keywords: Asperger’s Syndrome, Music, Friendship, Romance
Description (from GoodReads):
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?
By simply reading the description of Harmonic Feedback, you’ll discover that the main character has Asperger’s Syndrome. Asperger’s is characterized by social awkwardness and repetitve behaviors, which, understandably, sets Drea apart from other main characters in the genre. Unfortunately, some people may see Kelly’s debut novel on the shelf, and, like Drea’s peers, be unable to see past the Asperger’s. This aspect of the novel is well written and allows it to stand out on crowded YA shelves, but that isn’t the only thing that makes it shine.
As indicated by the title, Drea is heavily influenced by music. Whether the reader is familiar with the bands or types of music in the novel is irrelevant; it’s Drea’s passion that resonates. Often, a main character will dabble in hobbies and activities, but readers rarely see the protagonist so completely dedicated to something, other than a boy. Drea’s ability to both lose and find herself in music reminded me of how I feel about reading. I think many readers will feel this connection to Drea, no matter what their individual passion. It’s the fact that the reader can identify with Drea that makes her unforgettable.
It’s impossible for me to discuss Harmonic Feedback without mentioning Justin, the boy who unexpectedly walks into Drea’s life and turns it completely upsidedown. Not only does Justin challenge Drea’s ideas about her music, he challenges her ideas about herself. In ways, Justin is Drea’s knight in shining armor. He awakens her to a whole new world that I fear she never would sought out on her own. Kelly wrote Justin as both a supportive friend and a boy falling head over heels for a girl, which is exactly what Drea needs.
I can’t say enough good things about Harmonic Feedback and, even then, I don’t know if I could do it justice. Tara Kelly has written a powerful novel that both inspires and entertains and I urge you to read it!
I love the cover, especially because the cover model could be me, you, or you.