Foolish Hearts is the first book I have ever read where I finished it and then immediately started reading it again. I do not regret doing so in the least, for Foolish Hearts is a wonderful novel, made all the better by the fact that it feature lots of Shakespeare. (I especially liked this because last week I watched a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and got all nerdy about Shakespeare again). I’ve liked all of Emma Mills novels, particularly This Adventure Ends (which I should probably reread because I barely remember anything…it was about Art, I think), but Foolish Hearts is better by far.
Foolish Hearts is highly reminiscent of Franscesca Zappia—set in the Midwest, nerdy, friendship focused, just a little bit weird. It’s also thoroughly its own thing though, and I could appreciate that.
A contemporary novel about a girl whose high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream leads her to new friends—and maybe even new love.
The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn’t supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn’t know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they’re both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia’s ever seen. As Claudia’s world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for. [from goodreads]
At its core, Foolish Hearts is a novel about needing people and embracing change. Claudia has it pretty good. She has a best friend and a loving family and is getting a quality education. She has her own rhythms and routines—she volunteers on Thursdays, she plays Battle Quest when she’s not doing homework.
Most novels start with a change, and in this case, it’s not Claudia who’s changing—it’s the relationship of Iris and Paige, who are breaking up, and Claudia is accidentally privy to it. But Claudia has to change to, as circumstances force her and Iris (who she’s low key terrified of) together. This sets up a whole chain of events (a comedy of errors, to go Shaekspeare) which gradually force her out of her bubble—she she doesn’t try very hard to engage with anyone at school, and her life is fine.
I think it’s easier to feel like Claudia does. Like your life is okay the way it is. Like you shouldn’t have to try harder, to learn more, to meet new people. I spent a lot of time lifing like that. And now, change is coming to me, whether I like it or not. And I do like it, but it’s still change. Claudia is also very awkward (to cit an example from the first page: abso-tootin-lutely!) and I loved that. And she’s an idiot, and she doesn’t know how to deal with things, and she works hard but doesn’t always care a lot. I just really liked her as a character.
All of the characters in Foolish Hearts are excellent. I think it’s because they’re realistic. Del is spunky and funky, but also mean when provoked; Iris has a hard exterior, but is enthuiastic and gentle on the inside; Noah is a fierce friend and also a lot of fun; Lena is shallow and vicious but also eager to understand Shakespeare; Julia is a kind sister and a lost adult. Each character has depth, and struggles, and a little of that shows up in the story. I have said of Emma Mills books before that she just has too much going on, and that continues to be true, but this book is so perfect that I don’t care. Claudia learns to need people, to step outside herself.
This paragraph is dedicated to Gideon Prewitt, perfect human being. I love Gideon Prewitt. It has been a long time since I have had a real proper ‘book crush’ (inasmuch as these things are real rather than abstract), but Gideon Prewitt is adorable. He is goofy, he is bright in both senses of the word, he’s a good brother, he can be hurt, he’s endlessly enthuiastic, he is aware of other people’s feelings and woks to protect them, and he puts himself out there when he needs to. If I didn’t want to date Gideon Prewitt, I would want to be him.
The one thing that could have made Foolish Hearts better, or at least more realistic, is more talk of college. Claudia is in her senior year, apparently, and from my experience of going to a (not especially elite but still mega pricey) private school, you spend a lot of your senior year meeting with college counselors, writing essays, taking about SAT scores, and researching the universities you’re gonna apply to. Claudia does none of that, and the novel is still whole and excellent, but that could have been part of the story, and I wouldn’t have cared if it was longer because it is so perfect. Then again, I do find that college in YA novels is usually pretty simplified, people get into Ivies all over the place, and it generally is not that true to the process either, so maybe it was better this way.
There’s a lot going on in Foolish Hearts. Ultimately, though, it’s about relationships, and it’s superbly written, and the characters speak and act in the rhythms of life. I felt seen and safe while I read it.
Have you ever immediatly reread a book after finishing it? and have you read this one? it’s pretty quality; i loved it!