BOOK REVIEW: In Harmony by Emma Scott

BOOK REVIEW: In Harmony by Emma ScottIn Harmony by Emma Scott
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Synopsis:

The root of all madness is an unbearable truth…

At seventeen, Willow Holloway’s life was torn apart. The happy, driven girl is gone, and she is left wracked by post-traumatic stress her body remembers even if she does not. When her father suddenly uproots the family from their posh penthouse in New York City to the tiny town of Harmony, Indiana, Willow becomes more untethered and lost under the weight of her secret. On a whim, she auditions for a part in the community theater’s production of Hamlet and unexpectedly wins the role of Ophelia—the girl who is undone by madness, and her love of Hamlet…

Isaac Pearce is from the ‘wrong side of the tracks.’ The town bad boy. Girls pine for his attention and guys are in awe of him. That he’s an acting prodigy only adds to his charisma. Isaac utterly disappears into his characters; the stage is the only place he feels safe from his own traumatic home life. He wants nothing more than to escape to Broadway or Hollywood and leave Harmony behind for good.

No one can play Hamlet but Isaac, and when the director pairs him with Willow in acting class, they clash again and again—neither willing to open their hearts to anyone. But clashing leads to breaking, breaking leads to the spilling of terrible secrets, and soon Isaac and Willow find Shakespeare’s words mirroring their lives. When they are cruelly torn apart, neither know how this play will end—with madness and heartache? Or healing, love, and the discovery of who they are truly meant to be.

In Harmony is a standalone YOUNG ADULT/NEW ADULT love story, and is intended for readers 18 and up. PLEASE NOTE, this book contains sensitive material such as physical abuse, and the aftermath of sexual assault (off the page). Reader discretion is advised.

Thank you NetGalley, the publisher (Trillian) and the author, Emma Scott, for my free copy in exchange for my honest review.

5/5

I was completely blown away by this book. I had never read Emma Scott before, so I had no idea what to expect. But I’ve been pretty down lately and was looking for something to bring me out of my funk and this seemed like a good one to try. I’m so glad I did, because even with the heavy subject matter, I was so drawn and invested in these characters.

Long review below, because this book deserves it.

I searched book after book of Celtic legend and lore, but I couldn’t find the tale of Little Light. Instead, the dark found me. Two weeks after my seventeenth birthday.

Meet one of our main protagonists, Willow. I adored Willow. Here was this girl, who had something absolutely terrible happen to her and was doing her best to deal with it, especially with fairly absent parents who refuse to acknowledge how seriously their daughter is in turmoil. In the middle of her senior year, her father is moved from NYC to a small town outside of Indianapolis and Willow is the new girl at school. (Side note: Hooray to a small Indiana town not being painted in totally terrible light!) Even in a new location, Willow struggles to understand and deal with the trauma of her ordeal from the year prior.

I tried not to let myself think of him. He didn’t even have a name in my reckoning. He didn’t deserve one. Names are for humans.

On day one in her new school in Harmony, Willow meets two very important characters in this story: Angie, an amazing side character, and other other damaged protagonist, Isaac. I loved Angie. She was quirky but unabashedly herself. She goes out of her way to help Willow, even when Willow does not always return the favor. Their friendship was lovely and I really enjoyed when they were on the pages together.

And Isaac. Dark, dreamy, damaged Isaac. Isaac, who is a phenomenal actor and lives in a broken down trailer with his alcoholic father. Isaac who is determined to use his talents to get out Harmony and help those who he cares about.

After a brief but memorable meeting at the school, Willow decides to audition for the local production of Hamlet, which Isaac will star in. I really liked the author’s emphasis on using art as a way of healing for both Willow and Isaac.

I didn’t care whether I got the part or not. All that mattered was that for the first time, I’d told the truth. Cloaked in other words, but still my truth.

Willow ends up getting the part of Ophelia, opposite of Isaac as Hamlet, and that’s really where their interaction begins. And I was here for it.

He shoved his shoulder against mine playfully, not looking at me, but his Oedipus curtain call smile slipped out, and it put a crack straight across my block of ice.

If you’re looking for a slow-burn YA contemp romance, you have come to the right place. Because there is a lot both Isaac and Willow have to deal with in their personal lives, as well as their feelings for each other. I really appreciated nothing being rushed and the small moments and interactions as they got to know one another. It honestly felt so real and natural, which is exactly what I love.

Take this interaction for example:
I swallowed hard. “It doesn’t matter.” “Matters to me,” he said, his voice gruff. “It fucking matters to me Willow.”

And this one:
“You’re not dead,” I said, crouching down. “You’re not dead, Willow.” I won’t let you die. “Not all of me,” she said, sleepily. “But a part of me is dead and gone. And I’ll never get it back.” And that hit me in the heart a thousand times harder than her screaming rage at the sky.

The scene in the graveyard killed me. It was so good. Definitely one my favorites in this book, and there were a handful I could have picked from as a favorite.

If you’re looking for a book that will make you want to laugh, smile, cry, be heartbroken and then whole again, look no further. There were a lot of important themes to this book and some heavy topics, but I thought they were handled in a good way. Just FYI, TW for: rape, PTSD, physical abuse, verbal abuse, use of slurs (though it is acknowledged it is wrong) and underage drinking. It’s also definitely a mature YA novel, so just be aware.

Overall, I loved this book and I loved these characters. Any little issues I had are completely overwhelmed by everything else. This book was wonderful and if you are even slightly thinking you might be interested in it, you should absolutely do so.

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6 Comments

  1. So glad to hear you loved this book. I am a Scott fan, and can’t wait to read it. It sounds really emotional, so I will make sure I bring my tissues.
    Sam@WLABB recently posted…Blog Tour: The Year of Living Awkwardly – Emma ChastainMy Profile

  2. I’ve never read anything by this author, but that’s awesome this was a 5 star read for you!! All the characters just sound lovely, and I’m not far from Indiana, so yay! I love when books are set somewhat near to me. 🙂

    -Lauren
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…The Hound of the Baskervilles: Graphic NovelMy Profile

    • Cassie

      July 6, 2018 at 6:17 am

      Hello fellow Midwesterner! I was so pleasantly surprised by this book–I just couldn’t put it down. I love it when that happens! Thanks for reading my review 🙂

  3. Fantastic review! This sounds like a great read and I’m glad you loved it! I’m adding it to my TBR! 🙂
    Raven recently posted…Filthy Gods (American Gods 0.5) By R. Scarlett [Review]My Profile

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