Author: Ali Novak
Also by this author: Paper Hearts
Publication date: August 4th 2015
Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | The Book Depository | iBooks | Google Books | Audible
"When I met Oliver Perry, I had no clue he was the lead singer for The Heartbreakers. And he had no idea that I was the only girl in the world who hated his music."
Stella will do anything for her sick sister, Cara—even stand in line for an autographed Heartbreakers CD...for four hours. She's totally winning best birthday gift this year. At least she met a cute boy with soft brown hair and gorgeous blue eyes while getting her caffeine fix. Too bad she'll never see him again.
Except, Stella's life has suddenly turned into a cheesy love song. Because Starbucks Boy is Oliver Perry lead singer for the Heartbreakers. And even after she calls his music crap, Oliver still gives Stella his phone number. And whispers quotes from her favorite Disney movie in her ear. OMG, what is her life?
But how can Stella even think about being with Oliver — dating and laughing and pulling pranks with the band — when her sister could be dying of cancer?
Ali Novak wrote her debut novel My Life with the Walter Boys when she was just 15 years old, and has since penned her next book, The Heartbreakers. First a hit on the online community Wattpad, her second novel has over 38 million reads and is loved by readers around the world.
Stella and her twins Cara and Drew have been through a lot together – Cara has non-Hodgkins lymphoma and has been in and out of the hospital as a teen. Now, with their eighteeth birthday coming up, Drew and Stella concoct a scheme to get her signed memorabilia from the world’s biggest boy band, the Heartbreakers – and Stella’s worst nightmare. A bunch of coincidences throw them together with the band for a night, where they have an amazing time together, especially Stella and lead singer Oliver. When an opportunity comes up for Stella to work with the band again, she nervously and excitedly accepts, unsure of what to expect.
Two things really worked in this novel and made it more than just a cutesy romance. The first, and most important, was the emphasis on family. Stella and Cara and Drew…the three of them really do feel like a tight unit. Drew ribs his sisters a ton and Cara and Stella are identical twins who really have each other’s backs. They challenge and support each other – sometimes a little too much. Throughout the book, Stella’s dilemma is always how to leave her sister, even for a day. At the beginning of her story, she has just graduated from high school and is deferring college several states away, which is frustrating for Cara, but also completely understandable. For a family as close as Stella’s, it’s impossible to think of leaving a safe place.
That idea of safety and security versus taking chances runs through the novel, with both Stella and Oliver. Although it isn’t subtle, the strength of the theme and the author’s understanding of her characters really makes this an enjoyable read. The romance, while a little unrealistic, draws from this theme and from the theme of family: the stakes matter in this relationship.
If I do have qualms, it’s that Stella was a little bit of manic pixie dream girl – she’s at loose ends, very available and helps the main male character on his way. What saves her is her complete sarcasm and her love for her family. Both those things are so relatable that I was able to overlook some of her more cliched qualities.
Overall, this is a cute contemporary that surprised me with its depth and honesty. This would be a fantastic beach read, and a great one for young teens experiencing YA for the first time.
It’s in the Family: Stella isn’t just Oliver’s love interest, and her family aren’t really relegated to the sidelines. Stella and her family develop real friendships with all of the boys in the band, and each of the boys has a different relationship with one another. It’s a really great dynamic that keeps things from getting too light or too heavy.
The Arts: The boys are obviously really into music, and Stella is obsessed with photography. I really liked how passionate they all were about their crafts, and how they encouraged pushed each other to do better.
Book Theme Song:
So I don’t wanna wait any longer
I just wanna tell the world that you’re mine, girl
They don’t know about the things we do
They don’t know about the “I love you”’s
But I bet you if they only knew (they don’t know)
They would just be jealous of us,
They don’t know about the up all nights
They don’t know I’ve waited all my life
Just to find a love that feels this right
Baby they don’t know about, they don’t know about us
I couldn’t stop myself from choosing a One Direction song (and yes, I went through a ton to get to this one, my ears will never be the same) – this one epitomizes the complexities of Stella and Oliver’s relationship…and also how much they are hiding from each other.
The Final Word:
The Heartbreakers was a really surprising read for me – I was definitely expecting a bit of fluff with this book, what with the whole “girl-meets-celebrity-falls-in-love” trope. But while it definitely employed that trope, it did it in a way that felt believable and fresh, with a lot of emphasis on fears holding you back and family. A really fun, addictive summer read.
THE HEARTBREAKERS comes out today. Are you guys interested in reading it? What are your favourite beach reads this summer? Are you a 1D or boy band fan?