Published: May 25, 2013
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.
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?
My ThoughtsHarmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly falls in that coveted category of hard to put down. This story captured my attention almost immediately and despite a hectic couple of days, I kept running back to this book at every free moment to read more about Drea and her life. Harmonic Feedback really did move me and kept me glued to the pages from beginning to end.
I was pleasantly surprised by the content of the book. It wasn’t until I was about to start reading it did I discover it involved themes such as Asperger’s Syndrome (AS) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). I initially thought it was about the well played out concepts of teenage angst, coming of age, first love sprinkled with the added element of music. Not the case at all!
In Harmonic Feedback we meet Drea, a sixteen year old, musically obsessed teenager that’s had all sorts of labels thrown at her, such as teachers calling her socially immature, to kids calling her a freak, and doctors checking off symptoms so they can make random diagnosis on her. Her whole life she’s struggled to make friends and simply fit in, all because she doesn’t understand that invisible set of social rules. All that changes when she moves to a new town and meets Justin and Naomi, the first people to treat her like nothing was wrong with her, and for the first time she wants to be good at the role she is suppose to play; in the hopes that if she plays her part right, they will see her as normal.
Overall, I feel this book is so much more than about defining AS and ADHD. At the core, this novel is about a girl’s experience with just trying to fit in. In today’s day and age, we like to believe we’ve come a long way in accepting differences and bringing down social barriers, but when you think about it people are just as quickly to judge others today as we were yesterday.
I really came to feel compassion for Drea because through her eyes, we can see how at the most basic level, everyone simply just wants to be accepted. Heck, this concept is even backed up by theories such as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs stating that social acceptance comes in at #3 in our list of human needs where we simply want to experience belonging, love, affection and acceptance. Throughout the entire novel, it always felt that this was just beyond Drea’s grasp and at any moment she would do or say the wrong thing and everything would just fall apart.
The characters in this novel all played well defined roles. Her mother was always that protective person that sometimes passed the boundaries of confidence IMO by telling people about Drea’s condition before she even had a chance to define herself. Naomi came in to Drea’s life and offered her friendship with no questions asked, but it still felt like it came with a price that challenged Drea’s beliefs of right and wrong. Justin was the first person to know Drea’s true self and give her the love she deserved and the protection she required in a socially confusing environment. All great secondary characters that played integral roles in Drea’s life.
Overall, this novel was filled with powerful and raw emotions. I loved the music element that was infused in the storyline. I adored the characters and my heart broke for Drea time and time again throughout this book. Truly a story that’s well worth the time and investment. Great read!