Harmonic Feedback

Harmonic Feedback

4.8 8
by Tara Kelly
     
 

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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

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Overview

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?
Harmonic Feedback is a 2011 Bank Street - Best Children's Book of the Year.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
A story of how it feels to be an outsider, Kelly's debut follows the complex and candid thoughts of 16-year-old Drea, who is diagnosed with ADHD and borderline Asperger's syndrome. She is highly intelligent, but certain tasks, such as driving, and social interactions are challenging ("All I know is I make sense to me--it's other people who seem complicated," she says). When she and her flighty mother move to yet another town to live with her ornery grandmother Drea wants to crawl into her shell. But then she meets flamboyant, attention-seeker Naomi and sensitive Justin, both of whom share the burden of unstable families and imperfect pasts. The trio bonds over a mutual love for making trip-hop music and a desire to trust someone, but Naomi's taste for danger and drugs soon distances her from her new friends. While Naomi's self-destruction follows a predictable downward spiral, the novel's strength lies in Drea's dynamic personality: a combination of surprising immaturity, childish wonder, and profound insight. Her search for stability and need to escape being labeled is poignant and convincing. Ages 14–up. (May)
Booklist
Fans of Rachel Cohn and David Levithan's Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist (2006) will recognize similarities in the dialogue and romance between music insiders, but this title leads to a sobering, tragic ending that underscores the message that all teens, regardless of how they're wired, struggle to find connection, meaning, love, and purpose.
Ellen Hopkins
Alternately heartwarming and heartbreaking, Harmonic Feedback is a book about acceptance, exclusion, joy, pain, love, loss, and finding your way in a world that makes no sense to you. In short, it is a very real view of what it means to be a teen today and a fine first novel for Tara Kelly.
age 15 Elana
A beautifully written novel.
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Drea is a high school junior in a new town, navigating through social networks that are extraordinarily uncomfortable for her because she has Asperger's syndrome. She is clueless to teen innuendo, body language, and facial cues. Her creativity flourishes in music as it is specific, precise, and as clear as the black-and-white keyboard. She is befriended by Naomi, who has a beautiful voice but dances too close to danger. Justin is kind, good-looking, and somewhat mysterious. He is a gifted pianist, and the teens form a trio. For Drea, first love with Justin is tricky, but seems no more so than for any young person. There are more times than not when she seems comfortable following Naomi along her turbulent path, which includes shoplifting, drug use, and an abusive relationship. Through Drea's eyes, readers see a cast of drama-teens self-absorbed in their edgy lifestyles. Unfortunately, there is just too much disharmony here and too little of what makes Drea tick.—Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY
Kirkus Reviews
After living with a series of her mother's boyfriends, Drea and her mother move in with Drea's stern, ill-tempered grandmother in tiny Bellingham, Wash. There Drea, who has never fit in because of her mild Asperger's, meets her first friends: moody, impulsive Naomi and seemingly wholesome Justin. The three form a band-Drea produces electronic music as a hobby-but tensions develop when Naomi becomes reckless with her drug use and Drea's involvement with Justin becomes physical as well as emotional. Complex and multifaceted characters give this story warmth, heart and maturity. Drea's diagnosis informs her experiences and behaviors but refreshingly does not define her character, which readers get to understand through her direct first-person narration. The drama ramps up to an explosive ending that in a weaker story might feel cheap and manipulative but here feels true; similarly, the resolution of tensions works because the author has brought her characters through a difficult and believable journey. Aside from one sudden sex scene that is too uncomplicatedly joyous to be credible, this is a nuanced, sympathetic portrait that earns its hard-hitting climax. (Fiction. 14 & up)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805090109
Publisher:
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
05/25/2010
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
1,462,417
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)
Age Range:
14 - 18 Years

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