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Harmonic Feedback Hardcover – May 25, 2010

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (May 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 080509010X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805090109
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #909,926 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From 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
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

Since early childhood, Drea has received diagnoses that vary from ADHD to mild Asperger's syndrome. “All I know is I make sense to me—it's other people who seem complicated,” she says. Yet after she and her single mom move from San Francisco to Bellingham, Washington, to live with Drea's cranky grandmother, Drea, a talented musician and aspiring “sound designer” who “had never even felt what could be considered a crush,” forms a band with wild, purple-haired Naomi and fellow new kid Justin, with whom she begins her first romance. Without overexplanation, debut novelist Kelly offers readers a strong, authentic sense of Drea's inner life and daily struggles, which include Drea's intense musical passion and her well-founded worries about Naomi and Justin. 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. Grades 9-12. --Gillian Engberg

More About the Author

Tara Kelly adores variety in her life. She's an author, one-girl-band, graphic designer, editor, and she's back in school getting her M.Ed in School Counseling. She lives in Portland with her ten guitars, sound design master bf, and a fluffy cat named Maestro.

For more information about the author: http://thetaratracks.com

Customer Reviews

The characters are more real in this novel than some people seem to be in real life.
Paula Gomez
People learn to act normal, but we all have our strange quirks and ways of looking at the world and that's a good thing.
The writing, authentic characters, story, and pacing all made the book an original and engaging read.
Lucy (Reading Date)

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mary@BookSwarm VINE VOICE on August 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Final Grade: 99/A+
Rated PG-15: drug use, sex, some language

REVIEW: 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.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Laura Manivong on May 25, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I got to read this arc several months ago, and the fact that specific scenes are still fresh in my head is a testament to its power. Drea, the protagonist, is such an individual main character, not caught up in the typical drama of most teenage girls. She's wonderfully flawed and brutally truthful, and it makes for a fantastic journey through the heart and soul of a teen navigating her way through a world that doesn't always make sense. A refreshing and vital addition to the genre of realistic teen fiction. Highly recommended.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Allison J on November 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I was rather shocked by how much I loved this book. I was honestly not expecting to find it so fully engaging - but the protagonist's world was a wonderful place to visit. I also appreciate that it was a book about a girl with Asperger's without that being the main focus of the book - she was simply an awkward girl trying to find her way through high school with perhaps a few more obstacles than your average awkward girl. (I was also kind of in love with the male protagonist, even if he was constructed entirely of characteristics never before seen in a teenage boy). In any case, I loved it!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Angela Thompson VINE VOICE on November 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I picked up HARMONIC FEEDBACK based on the strength of Trisha's review over at The YA YA YAs. This is not an unusual thing for me to do, as you probably know. Trisha has impeccable taste and a knack for tempting me with her reviews in such a way that what was non-committal longing suddenly turns into I must have it now! Trisha asked why more people aren't talking about this book and called it "a noteworthy debut." After reading it, I frankly have to agree with her. It was hard to track down in the first place, which was frustrating, and I haven't talked to all that many people who've read it. Yet it's a lovely story of growth and grief and what it means to exist outside the box. I think it possesses wide appeal for young adult readers who appreciate sensitive and thoughtful characters engaged in the search for connection and meaning in their lives.

Drea and her mom are on their own and they have been for as long as Drea can remember. Her first sixteen years have been one long string of moves and men. Her mother can never seem to keep a job long enough for Drea to finish that year of school. And she goes through men like they're a dime a dozen. Eternally nonplussed, Drea really does have enough on her plate without having to deal with her mother's fickle behavior. Diagnosed with ADHD and a mild form of Asperger's syndrome, it's hard for Drea to relate to her peers. They continually act irrationally, in ways that make no sense to practical, methodical Drea. Her mother is forever explaining "normal" people's behavior to her in the hopes that she will catch on and not stick out like a sore thumb.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Kelly Jensen (STACKED Books blog) on June 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I've read a number of books that deal with mental disabilities, and while I can't say any have felt inauthentic per se, I haven't read one that has made the character a completely normal person. But I am excited to say I found that experience no longer true after reading Tara Kelly's debut Harmonic Feedback.

Drea and her mother move from California to the Seattle suburbs after her mother can no longer afford to support them both. They're moving in with her mother's mom, who has agreed to take them in -- for a while, at least. Drea's mom is not the most stable as we discover, but she's not central to the plot. Drea is.

Drea is ADHD and has Asperbger's disease, but those challenges aren't what will hold her back from trying to make friends at her new school. As soon as she steps foot at her grandmother's, she is greated by Naomi, the neighbor who happens to her age, and she is immediately making a friendship. This helps get her settled into school just a little easier, even though Naomi has a list of issues herself. She's a little too into drugs for Drea's liking.

Music and sound design are Drea's passions, and those two things are what lead her to meeting -- and falling for -- Justin. Well, really, they meet the first day of school since they are both the new kids. They don't hit it off immediately, but when they start talking music, the sparks fly. Without much time, Justin, Naomi, and Drea are mixing their own jams. But then things go south for Naomi when she spends a little too much time with the wrong guy...and the wrong drugs.

Harmonic Feedback was a fast-moving and well-written book that portrayed Drea is a completely normal light. Although she mentions a few times that she has a couple of mental challenges, the book is not dominated by THE ISSUE.
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