Heartbreak Symphony by Laekan Zea Kemp
Genre: Young Adult Contemporary Romance
Publishing Date: April 5, 2022
Clap When You Land meets On the Come Up in this heart-gripping story about navigating first love and overcoming grief through the power of music.
Aarón Medrano has been haunted by the onstage persona of his favorite musician ever since his mother passed away. He seems to know all of Aarón’s deepest fears, like that his brain doesn’t work the way it should and that’s why his brother and father seems to be pushing him away. He thinks his ticket out is a scholarship to the prestigious Acadia School of Music. That is, if he can avoid blowing his audition.
Mia Villanueva has a haunting of her own and it’s the only family heirloom her parents left her: doubt. It’s the reason she can’t overcome her stage fright or believe that her music is worth making. Even though her trumpet teacher tells her she has a gift, she’s not sure if she’ll ever figure out how to use it or if she’s even deserving of it in the first place.
When Aarón and Mia cross paths, Aarón sees a chance to get close to the girl he’s had a crush on for years and to finally feel connected to someone since losing his mother. Mia sees a chance to hold herself accountable by making them both face their fears, and hopefully make their dreams come true. But soon they’ll realize there’s something much scarier than getting up on stage—falling in love with a broken heart.
Thoughts and Themes: I decided that I had to read this book as I loved the author’s debut novel. I was so pleased to find that while this book is also a romance like the first one it was significantly different but just as great. There are so many sections of this book that I highlighted on my kindle because of how these lines spoke to me.
Something that I really enjoyed about this book was how our main characters communicate with each other and the world through music. It reminded me of how I use songs to convey my feelings and sometimes only songs or books completely understand the way that I am feeling. I liked that these two main characters were able to pour themselves into music and how music shapes their lives.
Something else that I loved about this book was the way that it handled grieving and how we see different ways in which people are handling grief. I thought it was great to see both guys and girls dealing with grief, and how both Aaron and Mia lost their parents in different ways. I think because of the way that they lost their parents, the grief that they experience is different and while one of each of their parents is alive, they still are grieving because it is the loss of the parent they had before.
I really enjoyed how this book added the musician into the story and how he was an important part of Aaron’s life and grieving process. I thought it was a great way to show how everyone can have mental health issues and I loved the way he took care of himself. I don’t want to spoil that for you so I’ll let you read to see more about him.
Characters: There are several characters that you get to meet through their interactions with our main characters, Mia and Aaron. You get introduced to Mia’s siblings, friends, and family, and Aaron’s family and friends too.
I loved reading the interactions that Mia has with her brothers and how they try to heal each other. I liked getting to see how they raised her and also getting to see each of them show their grief in a different way. I really liked getting the chance to see how one of her brothers was healing through poetry but how he was still hiding and he only gets the courage to present to show her that it is possible.
I also really enjoy the theme of found family in this book which you really see through the people in the neighborhood. I loved getting the chance to meet Mr. Barrero who takes care of both Mia and Aaron when they need an adult figure in their lives. I really liked seeing how this man has shaped both of these people’s lives and how important he is to them. I also like how we get to see his back story as well to understand why he feels the way he does about Mia.
Writing Style: This story is written from a dual point of view that goes back and forth from our main characters, Aaron and Mia. I really liked getting to read this story from both of their perspectives since I think they both add different things to the story. I really liked getting to go back and forth between these two characters because they had things going on in both of their lives that weren’t intertwined with each other.
Laekan Zea Kemp is a writer living in Austin, Texas. Her debut novel, Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet was a 2021 Pura Belpré Honor Recipient. In addition to writing she’s also the creator and host of the Author Pep Talks podcast, as well as a contributor to the Las Musas podcast. She has three objectives when it comes to storytelling: to make people laugh, cry, and crave Mexican food. Her work celebrates Chicane grit, resilience, creativity, and joy while exploring themes of identity and mental health.