Harmonic Feedback [NOOK Book]


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 ...

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Harmonic Feedback

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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 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.

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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)
From the Publisher

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.

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.
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: 9781429936866
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
  • Publication date: 5/25/2010
  • Sold by: Macmillan
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Age range: 14 - 18 Years
  • File size: 400 KB

Meet the Author

Tara Kelly is a one girl band, writer, filmmaker, video editor, and digital photographer. Harmonic Feedback is her first published book.

Tara Kelly grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated from UC Santa Cruz in 2004 where she earned a B.A. in Film and Digital Media. Her books include Amplified and Harmonic Feedback. She is enjoying life as a freelance artist in the Denver area.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 8 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 8 Customer Reviews
  • Posted August 19, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    The best YA adult book out there.

    I found Harmonic Feedback when I was searching on my library's new book list. For one thing, I love the cover. It's a dark cover, something to make you sad, but still has a girl opening herself up to the rain, it's bring hope it. Like just because you hate the world, doesn't mean you can find beauty in it. Be forewarned, you will need some tissues with this one.

    Andrea, or Drea as she likes to be called, is used to moving. Each time her mom finds a new boyfriend for the month, they move. Different cities, different states, it's all something to take with a grain of salt. Yet this move is different. They are headed up to Washington to live with Drea's annoying Grandma while her Mom tries to find a job and get back on her feet. It's just another city to Drea, nothing special.

    Most people don't know it, but Drea is special. She suffers from a milder side of Asberger's Syndrome. It's not something she likes to throw out there to everyone, but her Mom has no problem doing so. So when she heads to school for the first day, all the teachers look at her like she is stupid, handicapped, and an idiot. The only good thing that happens is she actually meets people, who want to know her. Naomi, the purple haired free spirit who lives across the street, and Justin, the attractive guy who befriends her, but yet his secrets of his own.

    With all of their music talent been discovered, they decide to make their own band. Naomi heading up the mic, Justin at the piano, and Drea using her talents with the all around producer. Things seem to mesh, but as Justin and Drea get closer in their relationship, Naomi is pulling away, back into the ring of drugs. She decides to run away with Scott, the grungdy boyfriend, and his drug using habits. Now knowing that something bad is going to happen, Drea and Justin go looking for her, only to find the worst outcome yet. With everything Drea is going through, can she handle anymore emotional baggage? Only time can tell, and hurt the wounded.

    To be honest, Tara Kelly did the most amazing job bringing this story to life. With most young adult books, you get either complete mush, or cookie cutter romances, it's hard to find the balance that can bring both together. Drea and her story will stay with me for a long time, even though it's just a book, I connected so much with the characters, it hurt me to end. I cannot wait to see what else Tara Kelly will bring to us, all I know is that it will be amazing.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 17, 2011

    An Outstanding Book for All Readers--Even the Reluctant Ones!

    I loved this book for many reasons: Drea, the main character is awesome. The fact that she has Asperger's is an organic part of the story. Tara Kelly has a breathtaking command of the language. Kids who love music, kids who have conflict in their lives, kids who have challenges--in other words, everyone--will get something out of this book.

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  • Posted June 4, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    just check it out please. is worth it

    this is one of the most romantic complicated book i have read and it makes you relate to the character somehow and a twisted way just love.it is so different and i'm sure you'll love it. it is so different from some of the books i read. you'll laugh,cry your heart out and it will be very worth and i'm going to surprise you with no telling you what the book is about.

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  • Posted September 30, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Top Pic 2010 YA books!

    Darned book made me cry! Maybe it was because I was up into the wee hours of the morning finishing this book or maybe it was because I was so invested in these characters, but I cried--and I so rarely do that with books. (Or...it could be that I have to go back to school in a couple of days that made me weepy...)

    Drea is an absolutely marvelous character--I totally rooted for her every step of the way. She's struggled all her life with labels (AS, ADHD), and a mom who tries to make life easier for her by telling everyone about Drea's "issues". Of course, this just ends up making Drea's life more difficult. And, because of her challenges, she has a lot of trouble relating to people and vice versa. They don't appreciate her straightforward honesty (she doesn't understand lying) or her abrupt manner until Nicole and Justin come along. Both musicians, they connect with Drea and become her first real friends (and boyfriend! Great love story!), making beautiful music together (sorry, couldn't help myself).

    I can't say enough about this book. I love the connections between the characters, how they all interact with one another. The dialogue is well-paced and totally believable. Author Tara Kelly's treatment of Drea's Asperger's syndrome is done with a delicate and understanding hand, integrating Drea's daily struggles with social interaction seamlessly into her overall character.

    Kelly develops deep backstories for each of her characters, adding to the richness of the story. For example, Justin isn't just a cute boy with a past, he has a past that he's trying to redeem himself from, a past that allows him to relate to both wild-child Nicole who loves boys and drugs (and who made me want to slap some sense into her!), and Drea, who'd rather bury herself in the basement with her instruments and her computer. Even Nicole's slimy boyfriend and minor character, Scott, is developed, rather than just a cardboard placeholder as is the case with many bit players.

    HARMONIC FEEDBACK definitely goes on my "To Read Again" pile (*much* smaller than my TBR pile). One of my top pics for 2010.

    I absolutely cannot wait for her next book, C-SIDE TALES, which comes out in 2011.

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    Posted May 21, 2010

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    Posted May 21, 2010

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    Posted August 1, 2012

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2011

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