by Tara Kelly
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?
Tara Kelly's book, Harmonic Feedback, develops such a parallelism between the rhythm of life and music that by the end you are so lost in the sound of society. This book stirs up the same emotions as sitting back, closing your eyes and listening to the most meaningful songs you've ever heard.
The book starts out with Drea, a teen girl who seems to live a life of constant complications. Her mom is always moving her around, constantly with a new boyfriend. Her only solace is obsessing over sound design and creating music. Drea has always been thrown from doctor to doctor and it is very prevalent that she is just diagnosed with ADHD and Asperger's and that that is apparently all that defines her. She can't seem to fit in with societal norms and escapes with music. When she moves in with her grandmother, she meets Naomi. Naomi is the girl across the street who "is trouble" according to everyone else. Quirky, crazy Naomi quickly befriends Drea and accepts her for just who she is. Justin is the boy from school who is also new and slightly off-beat. The three of them bond over a love of music. As the book progresses, it becomes less of a normal contemporary YA book to a heavy, moral-questioning story about drug abuse, addiction, relationships and life. This book left me rethinking why I follow society's behavior and why a different way of thinking is just categorized with a disease name and therefore wrong. Chills...this book definitely gave me them.
The characters all have such intensely descriptive personalities that you can't help but love them. Naomi reminds me of a character from an Ellen Hopkins book. She is struggling with life and deals with drugs and wrong decisions. But she has such a pure spirit, she only sees the good in people and accepts everyone. She was very inspiring. Justin starts off as the typical cute boy from school who takes a liking to the protagonist. He turns out to have an equally as conflicted soul as Naomi. Drea is so frustrated with being looked at as different because she has issues communicating normally. Because this book is written from her perspective it is so easy to see why. Not one of the characters in this book is simple.
The writing is what accomplishes that. Because the book is told in first person, it aids you in understanding the frustrations of a person with slight mental handicaps. And as I write that, I hate even saying the term "handicaps" because that isn't what it should be considered at all. Tara Kelly's writing inspired me to not only take a look around me and see how fake society is, but to question why I should follow its standards. As a character, Drea helped me to see that, as a representation of real people, she touched me in a way few book characters can. I strongly back Kelly's writing in this book and feel that everyone should read this. It is fantastic, musical writing that made me laugh, made me cry and made me want to live life how I want.
5 out of 5 stars, top shelf, magical.