Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills | First 5 Star of the Year!

Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills
Date Read: Jan 6, 2018
First Published: 2017
Signed Owlcrate Hardcover
Young Adult, Contemporary
Rating:
Re-Readability:
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.
Some books fall into your lap from nowhere, and you just kind of quietly thank whatever superior being you believe in for being so kind to you. This is one of those books. I didn't hear about it before, I didn't plan to read it, it wasn't anywhere on my radar. And then my Owlcrate box brought it to my doorstep, and I cracked it open. And my foolish heart was moved.

This book was simply adorable.

And I'm not talking in like an "aww, this is cute" kind of way. Oh no. I'm talking the kind of adorable that makes you stay up until freakin' 5 a.m. in the morning to finish the novel because you are so entirely captivated by these lovely people the wonderful relationships they are forming that you can't tell them goodbye. The type of adorable that keeps making you want more.

Yeah, that kind.

And it all starts with Claudia. She is just a normal girl who goes to a not so normal all-girls high school, even though she would have much preferred to go the public school with her best friend Zoe. While Claudia certainly doesn't suffer in her school (and I can't express how much I loved the fact these rich girls are not made into the cliched mean girls), she doesn't exactly make any strong friendships either. Instead, she spends her time playing an MMORPG together with Zoe, her older brother Alex and her older sister Julia and her husband Mark who live in Indianapolis.

Everything begins to shift when Claudia witnesses the breakup between her school's long-lasting couple Paige and Iris. It's that break-up that makes Iris chilly to Claudia when they are forced to work together on a project and causes the two to do horribly in it. As a result, the two are strongly encouraged to participate in the school's joint play with the all-boys' school.

That play changes everything.

It's there where Claudia gets the chance to get to know Gideon Prewitt. Hellooooo, book boyfriend! Gideon is the most popular guy on the boys' side. Everybody knows him, and everybody likes him. Even Claudia. He's goofy, handsome, awkward, loyal, and everybody calls him the prince. And this prince is instantly smitten with Claudia and her wicked sense of sarcasm (which is, really, when everything boils down to it, the best sense to have).

This guy. THIS GUY!

This is how you write a book boyfriend; sweet, genuine, well-meaning, silly, funny, and just head over heels for the girl in the cutest of ways. He lights up when he sees Claudia. He keeps wanting to spend time with her. He flirts and he jokes and he matches her wit and sarcasm. He is interested in the things she is interested in, and he notices the smallest of things about her. Gideon Prewitt, quite frankly, makes my foolish heart flutter.

But wait, Gideon and Claudia aren't the only amazing relationship in this novel. The second one is the friendships that bloom between Claudia and Ice Queen Iris. To say it starts off on the wrong foot is to... underestimate and oversimplify things. Iris is mean, cold and unaffected. Everything Claudia is not. But while Claudia hates fighting and usually chooses to avoid altercations, don't mistake her for a doormat or a coward. Oh, no, Claudia gives as good as she gets. She snaps back, she fights back, and she throws some truths at Iris.

I guess Iris finds that somewhat charming, or at the very least refreshing, because she starts to... thaw. It starts when she coerces Claudia to do another paper with her, this time actually exchanging numbers and even meeting up to do the project. Then it evolves into sharing hobbies. Then it ends up in girl talk and boy talk and all kinds of talk, and suddenly - they're friends, and no one can deny that, least of all the two girls involved.

I honestly thought this was extremely endearing. Iris is not the kind of girl you become friends with at once, and Mills does an incredible job showing Claudia slowly, and often unintentionally by just being Claudia, chipping away the armor of steel around Iris and reaching her heart. In a lot of ways, Claudia is a far stronger force in Iris's life than the-love-of-her-life Paige, because, while Paige makes Iris want to be better, it's Claudia who shows her that she can be, and how.

She's the one who defends her even when she doesn't always give her a good reason to, she's the one to point out they're friends, or that Iris is doing exactly what she thinks she is incapable of. She's the one who calls Iris out on her bullshit but also makes her act differently. She is the one to push her in the right direction. She's the one to make Iris not just her friend--but a part of a group of friends. All things Paige couldn't do, probably because Paige is the most important person to Iris, and therefore far more difficult to share, and also far more difficult to "lose" to.

Okay, I've rambled enough. Suffice to say, I adored this relationship. I adored the progression of it. I adored how Mills nailed the process and the feelings.

Speaking of feelings... this book has a. lot. of. them. It's not in the "normal" tear-jerker way, if you know what I mean. This book doesn't set up to get you to tear up. But it does such a phenomenal job putting you in Claudia's head and fusing yourself to her while you're reading that when she feels insecure, and small, and underappreciates herself so colossally and so matter of factly, you get there anyway. You want to smother her in a hug, and you want her to see she's wrong, while you simultaneously feel small and insecure yourself. It's honestly a wonder. I can count on one hand the number of heroines who have made me feel like this, and all of them were as unexpected as Claudia.

Now, aside for these three characters, the book doesn't lack for awesome people. You've got Zoe, Claudia's best friend, who is just... a great friend, even if she does stumble a little bit there. You have Noah, Gideon's best friend who I simply adored (I vote this bromance for president!). You have Alex and Julia, Claudia's siblings, who are just... all around #goals. The relationship between them is so good even when things get rocky and I adored every second of it!

I would honestly read an entire novel made up just of these characters living life, going on dates, hanging out, talking to each other. No angst or overall arc necessary. Just.. spending some more time with these guys. Is that too much to ask for?
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