“Do… Do you ever worry what people are saying about you?” I asked.
“Do I look like the type that worries about that?”
“I’ve come to know you can’t judge an album by its cover.”
– Charlie and Micah, The Songs in Our Hearts
Disclaimer: I was the editor of this novel for 48fourteen Publishing.
Small towns. High school romance. Movie-making. Class projects. New crushes. Lifelike characters. Classic literature. And music – lots and lots of music. These are just some of the notes that make The Songs in Our Hearts (48fourteen, 2017) by Chantal Gadoury a memorable and heartfelt tune.
The story is about Charlie, a studious and introverted high school girl who learns how to “live a little” when she meets a boy named Micah. Though Micah’s a slacker-type and hangs with a bit of a rough crowd, Charlie senses there’s more to him, just as he senses there’s more to her. Through music, the two teens form a bond, reminiscent of YA titles such as Just Listen by Sarah Dessen or Levithan and Cohn’s Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist.
What really drives Charlie’s narrative is the emotion behind it. The author is unafraid to deliver a vulnerable protagonist who is burdened by her own insecurities. Carefree Micah presents the perfect balance to Charlie, helping her to recognize that the only thing standing in her way is herself. Gadoury writes from the heart, with an undertone of wistfulness, almost melancholy, that is sure to evoke the reader’s own adolescent memories.
Some side details I really enjoy about the final product of this book are the chapter headers – they’re little pictures of cassette tapes, bringing to mind the “mixed tape” courtships of the eighties, and each chapter is not a number, but the name of an actual song and its artist, which serves as a soundtrack for that chapter. Stylistic details, such as the different fonts used for screenplays, text messages, and when characters write each other notes also add to the reading experience. I recommend this book to readers of contemporary YA romance, realistic teen fiction, and music lovers.