Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things

by Jacqueline Firkins


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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 suburban mothers 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. She’s got her own plans, and they don’t include any prince charming.
But as she dives into schoolwork and getting a scholarship for college, Edie finds herself drawn to two Mansfield boys strumming for her attention: First, there’s Sebastian, Edie’s childhood friend and first love, who’s sweet and smart and . . . already has a girlfriend. Then there’s Henry, the local bad boy and all-around player who’s totally off limits—even if his kisses are chemically addictive.
Both boys are trouble. Edie can’t help herself from being caught between them. Now, she just has to make sure it isn’t her heart that breaks in the process.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781328635198
Publisher: HMH Books
Publication date: 12/17/2019
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 68,337
Product dimensions: 13.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.50(d)
Age Range: 14 - 17 Years

About the Author

Jacqueline Firkins is a playwright, screenwriter, and comics artist who’s been creating worlds and characters as a set and costume designer for the past twenty years. She’s on the full-time faculty at the University of British Columbia, where she also takes any writing class they’ll let her into. When not writing, drawing, or sewing, she can be found running by the ocean, listening to earnest love songs, and pretending her dog understands every word she says.
Twitter: @JFkillsdarlings
Instagram: @jfkillsdarlings

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

At first the car ride was simply annoying. Edie slouched in the back seat of the SUV, clutching her mom’s sticker-coated guitar case. Her uncle Bert kept his eye on the road, characteristically quiet. Her aunt Norah blithely rattled on from the passenger seat, characteristically not so quiet. She was lost in speculation about the challenges Poor Edith would face now that she’d left foster care and come to live in “a real home.” Edie didn’t have a stable upbringing, a private education, or any exposure to society. Her wardrobe was atrocious. Her posture was appalling. She had bright orange cheese powder under her ragged fingernails, proving she had no understanding of proper diet or personal care. She was practically poisoning herself.
      “And that hair!” Norah exclaimed. “Good lord, what will the neighbors say?”
      Edie sank a little lower and tried to finger comb through the worst of her tangles, unsure why the neighbors would care about something as trivial as her hair. The purple dye that clung to the tips had long since faded to a subtle shade of lavender. The rest was a painfully ordinary shade of brown. It was dry and frizzy, and she hadn’t cut it for a couple years, but it was just hair.
      “Don’t worry,” Bert assured Norah, drawing her attention away from the back seat. “You’ll get Edith up to snuff in no time. Why, look what you’ve done with me.”
      “Yes, you’re right, of course.” Norah sighed while adjusting Bert’s shirt collar. “I do have a talent for improving people. The ladies in the club are always remarking on it.”
      Edie assumed Norah was referring to her Great Hearts, Good Causes club, which she’d been boasting about lately. Since joining last summer, Norah had apparently fundraised for Nigerian schoolchildren, Syrian refugees, and hurricane victims in Puerto Rico. Now she was determined to outdo all her neighbors by displaying her Great Heart on her very own doorstep. After all, anyone could send money to “those other people.” Few had the fortitude and generosity to let a poor relation live under the same roof, almost like family.
      “We’re putting you in the east room,” Norah said as Bert turned off the highway.
      “The big one in the corner?” Edie blinked away her surprise.
      “I know,” Norah said as if surprised, herself. “Normally we save it for guests, but we’re not expecting anyone until summer.”
      Edie gripped the guitar case a little tighter as she mentally checked off yet another title she wouldn’t hold during her stay: family, guest, anyone. She shook off her growing irritation by silently reciting the mantra she and her best friend, Shonda, had developed while dealing with bitchy customers back at the Burger Barn in Ithaca. Think it. Don’t say it. She could imagine a giant swarm of flying piranhas busting through the front windshield and reducing Norah to a small mound of bone dust and a pair of pearl teardrop earrings. She simply had to smile politely while she pictured it.
      When Bert drove by the ENTERING MANSFIELD, INC. 1770 sign, Edie recalled the last time she’d visited. It was more than seven years ago, back when her mom’s massive blowout with her sister led to a mutual boycott on family visits. Edie had been startled by her mom’s ferocity, and a little impressed, too. The two of them made a pinkie pledge that day to never enter Mansfield again. Now Edie was breaking that pledge. A little knot of guilt and grief formed in her gut. It tightened as the familiar landmarks continued to speed past: the ice cream shop, the library, the murky and probably polluted lake that Edie and her mom used to plunge into on hot summer days. Childhood memories flooded her, one after the other, rushing in faster than she could handle. She accidentally let out a sniffle. Then another.
      Norah craned around from the front seat.
      “Don’t sulk, dear,” she scolded, gentle but condescending. “Bashful, I can handle. Awkward, we can work on, but I can’t abide sulking.”
      Edie wiped her nose on her sleeve.
      “I was just thinking about my mom,” she said as the tears continued falling.
      Bert flashed her a sympathetic smile through the rearview mirror. Edie gratefully returned it. Norah, true to character, took no notice of either of them.
      “I understand a few tears,” she said, “but while you’re with us, please try to demonstrate a little moderation.”
      “Moderation?” Edie asked, unsure how such a thing was possible. What was she supposed to do, cry every other tear?
      Bert reached over and patted Norah’s hand where it rested on her lap.
      “It’s only been three years,” he quietly reminded her. “And a girl only has one mother.”
      “I only had one sister,” Norah countered. “But at some point even Frances would want us to move on.”
      Edie felt her temper rise, simmering under her skin like shaken soda-pop. She could handle being criticized. She’d prepared herself for endless disapproval, mandatory gratitude, and the uniquely tenacious agony of feeling like she’d never fit in. She’d even expected the ugly jolt of betrayal she felt for violating the pact she’d made with her mom. But she couldn’t believe Norah was putting a statute of limitations on missing someone. Then again, limitations had always been one of her specialties.
      “I suppose a bit of moodiness is to be expected,” Norah continued with a sigh. “Frances was always so temperamental, and you know what they say about the apple.”
      “It keeps the doctor away?” Bert snuck Edie a wink.
      Norah shot him a glare.
      “It doesn’t fall far from the tree,” she said.
      Edie bit her tongue, desperate to prove Norah wrong about her temper. The task grew increasingly difficult when Norah failed to cease her censure, soften her put-upon sighs, or get eaten by flying piranhas. By the time Bert pulled the car into the long and winding driveway, Edie was ready to explode. A thousand words pressed at her lips, none of them polite. Her only solution was to bolt before she said something she’d regret.
      The second Bert’s key turned in the lock at the side of the house, Edie ran past him, her old army duffel in one hand, the guitar case in the other.
      “Where do you think you’re going, young lady?” Norah challenged.
      “Somewhere I can sulk,” Edie snapped, the words flying out too fast to stop them. “In moderation.”
      With that, she fled up the stairs, ran down the hall, and slammed the bedroom door behind her. She stood there for several seconds, battling her instinct to flee all the way back to Ithaca. Too bad that wasn’t an option. She’d agreed to move here. Papers had been signed. Legal guardianship had been transferred. For the next five months, until she turned eighteen and left for college, she was stuck in Mansfield.
      She set down her belongings and reminded herself that the situation wasn’t all bad. Her aunt and uncle were offering her room and board, sending her to private school with her cousins, and making an effort to repair the family rift. Edie also appreciated having her own room, even if it was only on loan until guests arrived. She’d shared her last bedroom with two kids half her age. Her foster mother also snored like a stuttering sea cow, and the creepy building manager always waylaid Edie for small chat while he ogled her boobs. Surely a few months in Mansfield would be an improvement.
      Edie crossed the room and flopped down on the enormous sleigh bed, jostling the dozen or so eyelet pillows that’d been carefully arranged to imply they’d been dropped at random. It really was a nice bed. She could get used to that, at least. She surveyed her surroundings as she tried to picture herself settling in. Aside from the excess of white, not much had changed since her grandparents owned the house and she used to visit with her mom. The antique furniture was perfectly matched and polished. The door handles were porcelain. The lamps were cut glass. Everything was either fragile, sterile, or both, leaving Edie terrified she was going to break or stain something. It was a nice house but it didn’t feel like home.
      To Edie, home was safety, comfort, and a place where she could make mistakes because someone was there to help her laugh at them. A place where her seven-legged, bug-eyed caterpillar drawing stayed on the refrigerator years after the paper yellowed and the pipe cleaner antennas fell off. Where she and her mom read desperately tragic novels together. Where they shared Edie’s first cigarette, her first drink, her first post-heartbreak cry. Home was where Edie built memories. Home was where someone loved her. Here in Mansfield, Massachusetts, home appeared to have a more formal definition.
      Edie took out her phone and opened the web page she ran with her best friend: Shonda and Edie’s Indispensable and Only Occasionally Illogical Lexicon. She posted a new entry.



  1. A temporary refuge potentially preferable to foster care, homelessness, or Taisha Duncan’s lumpy pullout sofa bed.

  2. A residence containing three marble fireplaces, four unused bedrooms, and two dozen sets of shiny black shutters that don’t actually shut.

  3. A place where the doors are always open but the arms are not.

Edie stared at the screen, desperate to see a ping of connection with her friend. The comment section remained empty. She was starting to suspect Shonda had shut off her new post notifications, or, even worse, she was ignoring the site completely. With a pang of loneliness and an ache of uncertainty, Edie slipped her phone into her pocket and promised herself to check it only once an hour. Maybe twice.
      She retrieved her mom’s guitar case and sat down at the dressing table that was wedged between two bay windows. A dressing table, she noted, not a desk. God forbid she do anything but prepare herself to look fabulous for the neighbors. With a sigh of resignation, she opened the case. Two things lay inside: a dog-eared notebook filled with Edie’s songs, and a stringless guitar, its surface scratched, its tuning pegs askew. One day, when the thought of playing no longer made Edie well up with tears, she’d buy some new strings and make the guitar sing again. In the meantime, she’d simply keep it close. It stored some of her favorite memories: following her mom around to open mic nights, writing songs together, dozing off to a lullaby about sleeping in a crescent moon.
      Edie traced a line down the guitar’s neck as she recalled the first time she’d played her mom’s favorite song, “Water, Water, Wash Me Slowly.” She was only seven, barely able to hit all the notes. Her mom had practically burst from pride, telling everyone her daughter was going to be a huge star. That was a good memory. That was a hold-on-to-it-forever memory.
      She was about to shut the case when her eye caught on the napkin that was poking out from her notebook. She slipped it out and smoothed down the wrinkles. It was mangled and stained, but the scribbled words were still legible. I can’t. I’m sorry. Move on. Edie’s dad had stuck the note to the refrigerator door with an inauspicious out-of-season Santa Claus magnet when Edie was still a baby. He disappeared that day, for good, but Edie’s mom kept the note, brandishing it whenever Edie mentioned boys.
      “Edie,” she used to say, “never fall in love. As soon as you give a man your heart, he’ll shine his two-sided smile on someone else, trading his promises for your regrets.”
      Edie had few worries on that front. As an outsider in Mansfield, she’d have a hard enough time just making friends. For the rest of the school year, she intended to bury her head in her books, hoping to keep up her grades and earn a scholarship. Then, in August, she’d walk in her mom’s footsteps—exiting the same house in the same town, also shortly after her eighteenth birthday—but Edie would be running off to college, not to a husband. Haunted by a scribbled napkin and a flickering sadness that used to pass through her mom’s eyes, Edie wanted an education more than a romance.

Customer Reviews

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
marongm8 9 months ago
This book was received as an ARC from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children's Book Group - HMH Books for Young Readers in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. This book was a real refreshing treat and perfect for the start of summer. All the components of this book was such a joy to read and learning about the kind of girl Edie is and the boys she met over the summer visiting her gifted cousins. The publishers were right in the fact that fans of To All the Boys I've Loved Before can relate heavily to the story of this book and their hearts will be melting right at the very first moment. Our teen readers will love this book and want to read it over and over again. We will consider adding this title to our YFiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.
kozbisa 9 months ago
Edie was trying to keep her eyes on the prize. She aspired to earn a college scholarship, and start her future the right way. But first, she had to endure several months in her wealthy aunt’s home. While there, she reminded herself of the pact she made with her best friend - NO BOYS, but as she attempted to fit into this new world, she found her heart torn between two. Would she still be able to focus on her future or would these young men be her undoing? This book is a update of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, and for better or for worse, Firkins really stuck to the source material. If you are familiar with the original story, you know what to expect. If not, I think you will still delight in this story of girl trying to make her way in a new world, while working towards her dream and also enjoying a bit of romance. I really liked Edie. She had a few rough years, and sort of got herself in quite a predicament with her best friend prior to coming to Mansfield. Regardless of her situation, she tried to keep her head up and be true to herself. She had drive and ambition, and how could I not adore such a bibliophile? I found her easy to root for, and shared her pain, when things didn’t quite go her way. For a good part of this book, she was torn between her affection for two young men. Sebastian, her childhood crush, who was unavailable, and Henry, the resident playboy, who was emotionally unavailable. I enjoyed, when Edie and Sebastian relived parts of their past and engaged in literary wars, but Henry, he made me swoon. Henry was smooth and debonair, and he came off as superficial, but as the story played out, I got to know him on a different level, and I absolutely fell in love with him. He fostered a beautiful friendship with Edie, and was there for her when needed. I am crying just thinking about his little-grand gesture. It sort of made my heart explode, and I have to commend Firkins on her portrayal of Henry, because he owned my heart. Overall, this book provided me with a wonderful reading experience. I didn’t just read this book, I inhaled it. I found that I needed to read just one chapter, and blazed through this book in order to learn Edie’s fate. Though, the ending was not perfect, it left me in a happy place, knowing that Edie’s future looked quite bright. I was throughly enchanted by Firkins’ debut, and look forward to reading more of her work.
Anonymous 1 days ago
I read this book on a recommendation as it’s not usually the genre for me. Once I got started it only took me a few days to finish it, because I had to know how it was going to end. I loved that it had all the elements of a trashy teen television show, while also being smart and funny. While I couldn’t relate to the economic situation of most of the characters, I could definitely relate to their character flaws. I really appreciated Edie’s sense of humor—it made the book for me. And as a grown adult, is it weird to say that I enjoyed the steamy scenes? I mean, they were written just how I remember things feeling when I was a teenager.
Sarahb 6 months ago
This was a sweet romantic read full of heart. I adored the characters and the twists and turns the relationships took. This is a story full of heart, friendship, love and family. I found myself cheering for different characters at different times in the book and I was honestly unsure exactly where the author was heading. I will definitely look for more books by Firkins!
Anonymous 7 months ago
This was such a fun, cute book. There are plenty of adaptations of Jane Austen novels out there, but this one is a winner. I know my Jane Austen well, but readers who don't know Mansfield Park will still really enjoy this book, and those who do will just get that much extra out of it. My frustration with the source material (Mansfield Park) is that the heroine, Fanny Price, is such an inactive character - she's always waiting for something to happen to her. Hearts, Strings, etc loosely follows the storyline of Mansfield Park but gives agency and independence to the main character, Edie Price. I'm a 40-ahem-years-old lady myself and am probably out of touch with today's teenagers, but this book feels like the author IS in touch with what it feels like to be 17 right now. The characters inhabits the ordinary yet complex world of high school, first kisses, parties, alcohol, sexual attraction, prom night, back-biting girl drama, complicated friendships, college dreams and the challenges of forging one's identity. But it features a heroine who finds her own way rather than spending all her time sighing in window seats, waiting for someone, usually a guy, to notice her and make everything perfect. Here is a role model for young women. A fun debut novel, I can't wait to see what else the author will adapt!
JillJemmett 7 months ago
I just started reading Mansfield Park for the first time a couple of weeks ago, so I was so excited when I discovered that this book was a retelling. I’ve only read the first couple chapters of Mansfield Park so far, so I didn’t know how the story ends. I’m even more excited to read the whole story now, to see how this story was adapted from the original. There were many things in this one, such as high school, teen parties, and sex, which I know weren’t in the original story by Jane Austen. I loved this story! The romance was great. There was lots of drama in the many relationships, between all the different characters. I didn’t really agree with Edie’s final decision, but that was just my personal choice. I wished there was more of Edie’s aunt, Norah, in the story. The aunt, Mrs. Norris, in Mansfield Park was hilarious. She was very opinionated. Her aunt Norah was in this story a little bit, but she seemed more cruel by denying Edie from money, rather than exaggerated like in the original novel. This was a great story! Thank you HMH Books for Young Readers for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
andreajanelreads 7 months ago
I was provided with an ARC of this title from the publisher and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. Is your life filled with "what ifs"? Edie's certainly is. The boy who burrowed into imaginary fur coats with her searching for a way to Narnia, who climbed trees with her, and gave her the only kiss she's ever received, is her "what if." Edie doesn't really fit in with her rich cousins, and to her aunt she is a charity case meant to portray sainthood to the Junior League. She wears comfortable, kinda grungy clothes, she's very openminded and she's not afraid to be herself. This is a lovely exploration of the journey to find yourself in a world that wants you to just be quiet and blend in. It's a heartbreaking, yet uplifting story of a girl who takes all of the terrible things in her life and lets them build her inner strength.
MkMason 8 months ago
**Thank you to HMH Books for Young Readers, Jacqueline Firkins, and Netgalley for this ebook in exchange for an honest review** Hearts, Strings and Other Breakable Things follows upcoming high school senior Edie in her adventures as a foster child who has just been taken in by her wildly rich aunt in an effort to show off for her wildly rich friends and use her as a charity case. She will be going to the all girls prep school nearby with her spoiled cousins. She used to spend a lot of time at that house before her grandparent's died, so she also gets to catch up with her childhood crush, who has gotten very attractive over the years... until she finds out he has a girlfriend. Then, a new boy, Henry, comes onto the scene and she's confused. Henry is a stone cold player, but he seems legitimately into her. Which boy is right for her? Edie has a lot going on. She ruined her friendship with her best friend from home by making out with her boyfriend and getting caught. She has no job or money for college, and is constantly put down for being poor by just about everyone in the book. She's got it rough, but man I was not a fan of her character, or most of the characters actually. I have real mixed feelings about this book. I liked it through most of the book, but the ending really lot me. The characters are not redeemable and not to spoil anything, but I did not agree with which boy Edie ends up with. I feel like it was so obviously the wrong choice and I'm still bitter about it. This book didn't end up being my favorite. It was not bad, by any means, just not as much my cup of tea. I enjoyed several pieces of it, especially Edie's special lexicon blog where she posts fun definitions of words that relate to what's going on in her life. There were redeemable parts to this book, and I do enjoy contemporaries, which is why I still rated this fairly highly. If you like books with irredeemable characters and contemporaries, this will be the book for you.
Anonymous 8 months ago
A delightful young adult retelling of Mansfield Park. I enjoyed all of the references to other classic books. My favorite moments were between Edie and Sebastian getting reacquainted and remembering their childhood together.
Anonymous 8 months ago
I was given an ARC of Hearts, Strings, and other Breakable Things and just from the title I was excited and intrigued to read it. It was full of charm, humor and amusingly touching imagery. I could literally feel myself bonding with each character as I turned each page. I found myself rooting for true love to be triumphant but also reflecting on what that actually means for Edie and for all of us! I am eager for a second book to find out if she in fact made "the right decision"... This book brought me back to the simpler yet beautifully confusing time of being a young women trying to navigate who I was and what I wanted out of life. I can't wait to pass it onto my teenage nieces or see it made into a movie! Certainly an enjoyable story that should not be missed!
Yolanda Margolin 9 months ago
**4.5 Stars** Thank you to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Children’s Book Group and NetGalley for this opportunity to read this eArc. I read this last night, thinking to go for some light teen romance story and a few hours later, past midnight, with my heart racing, I thought, THIS BOOK. Reading the book, I thought, is this a Jane Austen Mansfield Park retelling?! Yes, I silently screamed it in my mind, as to not wake anyone up but I didn’t get the memo! The blurb said nothing obvious about it, except Mansfield is the town they live in? Duh – I should’ve caught that. And though I have never read Mansfield Park, I have watched the movie…a million times. I love Mansfield Park. I love the story of Fannie Price and her sweet love in the end. Now because I know the way Mansfield Park ends…I was feeling all kinds of conflicting emotions while reading Hearts, Strings and Other Breakable Things – (I love the title by the way)…because I did NOT want it to end like Jane Austen’s ending. Not that anything is wrong with Miss Austen’s version. But there is a character in HSAOBT (yes I just did that, sorry) that made me want a different ending! Edie Price is in foster care but goes to live with her aunt Norah. She has two cousins, Julia and Maria, who try to give her a make-over and help her fit into their life. The sisters are always arguing and Maria is just over-the-top but I find her hilarious. There is a next door neighbor, Sebastian, who Edie shares childhood memories with, and who she has the biggest crush on. But alas, he has the perfect girlfriend, Claire. And Claire has a devastatingly handsome and player of a brother, Henry, who is breaking hearts left and right. Henry has his eye kind of trained on Edie – but she isn’t having it. Edie is smart, not into the materialistic things, she writes music, loves to read and pines for Sebastian. Well…Henry and Edie, stole this book. If you know Mansfield Park then you know how it ends, but I was team Henry. He’s such a player but when that player falls in love, whew…it’s an amazing thing. So the ending was inevitable but oh Henry. There is a scene between Edie and Henry that just smolders, like there is no kissing involved, no sex, it’s innocent but it stopped my breath. 10 seconds of . It was funny, intense and sexy at the same time and I fell in love with Henry. Speaking of sex – there are situations in the book, which I was fine with because Edie is coming of age and learning these things. She’s allowed to feel this way and dream these things, what teenager doesn’t when going through puberty? And with Sebastian and Henry around, who can blame her? Like Mansfield Park there are other things happening besides Edie’s love life. She’s dealing with a broken friendship with her BFF from back home who isn’t talking to her. I liked that Edie wasn’t perfect and did something she needed to own up to. She also has to figure out her future – what to do about college, missing her mom, and learning about love. I absolutely loved this book and I only knocked off half a star because I wanted Henry to be the one. But it’s basically a 5 star read for me, so just round it up.
Papillon 9 months ago
Hearts, strings and other breakable things. Is a story about teenage love. Heartaching, beautiful love, that lifts you to the clouds only to plummet you to the depths of despair. It’s also a story about friendship and its importance. Edie has had it tough. Her much loved mother is gone and her rather stiff Aunt Norah and good old Bert who does as he’s told, have signed a legal guardianship until she is 18. They whisk her off to Mansfield. A far cry from her life in Ithaca, where she enjoyed evenings listening to her mother performing on open mic evenings and learned to play the guitar and write songs. Her guitar now languishes in a battered case, devoid of strings. She has lost the heart to write songs and play. Through a misunderstanding she has also lost her best friend. She wonders if “he” will still be around. Sebastian, literally the boy next door, the boy she hasn’t seen for seven years, who was her friend, her confidante, and her all important first kiss. Cousins Maria and Julia are intent on brushing up her looks and finding her a man. But both know the candle she holds for Sebastian. The dreamer who doesn’t want to go to law school, but wants to be a writer. A conversation not sitting well with his stepfather. The tingly sensation is still there when she meets him, and Edie dares to dream, but oh lord, he has a beautiful girlfriend. Edie admits defeat or does she? Sidetracked by the flirtatious Henry, at first considered, arrogant, untrustworthy, or maybe not, he tries so hard to win her heart. He accompanies Edie to the prom. The prom brings a beautiful moment. What does she feel and how is this all going to end. Sebastian’s girlfriend makes no secret of her contempt for Edie. Why? Is Edie really a threat? This story sucks you in from the first page. It will make you smile but also make you cry. It is written by someone who understands the intricacies and pain of teenage love, the doubts, the thrills, the toe tingling moments, they’re all there, coupled with quotes from some of the world’s most beautiful writers. I really hope there is more from Jacqueline Firkins. I can’t wait to see what comes next.
Anonymous 9 months ago
This is a very sophisticated debut novel that may nestle in the young adult bracket but has a much wider appeal.  For those of us a couple of years (/decades) beyond their teens, it will evoke all manner of emotions as you take this journey through Edie. One of Firkins' many strengths is her ability to distill the complexities of the human heart with an equal measure of humour and insight. Clearly her background in both theatre and literature has served her wonderfully detailed imagery and characterisation. The subtly woven and perfectly placed literary references take the reader on a whistle stop tour of some of our greatest classics, nestled alongside strikingly beautiful original poetry and lyrics.   There are few writers who manage to engage and enlighten the reader without any sense of patronising them. This coming of age novel consummately (no pun intended) handles how it feels for Edie as the social misfit, managing change, grief, loss, aspirations, the expectations of others and the all consuming emotion that comes with first love. Whilst we anticipate how all matters may pan out for Edie, amidst the group dynamic and two very different romantic interests, there is the ongoing relationship with her best friend, fraught with additional complexities. This adaptation masterfully acknowledges human friendship in a way that is sometimes lost or at least sidelined in romantic fiction. This story hooks in the reader and is charming yet real, human and refreshing. I can't imagine how there wouldn't be lots more great material to follow from this writer and look forward to seeing what comes next!