“In truth, we are rarely all on the same page. More often than not, they’re all on one page, and I’m on a completely different one.”
This is the first Emma Mills book I’ve ever had the pleasure to read and I have to say I’m completely blown away! Foolish Hearts is a beautiful and honest story about love, friendship, forgiveness and acceptance, along with a clever parallel between the cast of Foolish Hearts and the cast of Shakespearean masterpiece, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. All opinions in this review are my own. Thank you to Pan MacMillan Australia for sending my a finished copy to review.
The day of the last party of the summer, Claudia overhears a conversation she wasn’t supposed to. Now on the wrong side of one of the meanest girls in school, Claudia doesn’t know what to expect when the two are paired up to write a paper—let alone when they’re both forced to try out for the school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.
But mandatory participation has its upsides—namely, an unexpected friendship, a boy band obsession, and a guy with the best dimpled smile Claudia’s ever seen. As Claudia’s world starts to expand, she finds that maybe there are some things worth sticking her neck out for.
As depicted by the synopsis, Claudia accidentally overheard a breakup conversation she wasn’t supposed to. She then found herself thrown to the wrong side of one of the most difficult girls in her all-girls school, Iris Huang. The two girls, against their will, were forced to work together on a school paper and audition for the school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The big production was organised in conjunction with Claudia’s brother school, Danforth Prep, a neighbouring all-boys school that’s literally one grass field away. Before she knew it, Claudia was in for an eye-opening semester.
The plot revolves around Claudia’s internal AND external hilarious, snarky and sarcastic remarks (which I absolutely loved and would never be tired of!), along with her genuine and heartfelt interactions with the cast (friends and family included) – I found myself resonating her thoughts a lot, it’s like ‘omg girl, i completely get ya!’, like she’s so ‘me’ and I love it. I do want to point out that the pace can be a bit slow at the start for some, but that didn’t bother me because I found it to be just right! I mean I did finish it in two sittings!
Over the course of the novel, there were quite a few dilemmas in Claudia’s path (in both school and family) and frankly, most of them aren’t her own but she’s caught in the middle of it all, and the way she showed kindness to everyone and constantly does her best to make situations better – despite how shitty things seemed to be – makes me so happy and hopeful. Furthermore, I particularly enjoyed reading the different moods and dynamics between school and family affairs, and the status quo the characters were in at the start and the end of the book. I’d like to think that ‘personal growth’ and ‘stepping out of comfort zone’ are two of the biggest themes about this book. So yeah!
The characters– aka my favourite thing about this book! In the first chapter, I was flooded with character names, and I was
very a little overwhelmed – but my friend, let me reassure you: don’t you worry, they aren’t that important to lose your mind over. Claudia is smart, absolutely hilarious and a truly ‘wonderfully-flawed’ character. I love how real she is to herself: she never puts/talks herself down ever for being insecure (I mean who isn’t? nobody is perfect), she loves her friends and family, she’s more mature to those of her age but – she’s happy with being who she is – and there’s none of that bs on judging/comparing with other girls – she is able to see the best in everyone and in herself as well as standing up for those around her – I truly admire her for such strengths. Self-love and self-acceptance and zero tolerance for bs is important amirite.
I also love the cast and how everything just fits so nicely. Let’s talk about Gideon Prewitt, aka the adorable, charismatic and unique space-prince that I am 110% in love with. But that’s all I’m gonna talk about him because y’allllllll need to read this to find out more ;). I also adore the dynamics between Claudia and Zoe, her best friend, and how it reminds me the preciousness of true friendships. We are introduced at the start about Iris, and how mean/rude/awful she is etc. – the way Claudia interacted with Iris flooded me with feels okay, it’s unlike anything I’ve read and I’m super glad for it. The story also explores real issues like financial hardships and differences between economic statuses and loosing sense of belonging. In my opinion, Mills dealt with them wonderfully.
Another great thing about this novel is the diversity – and how it’s integrated flawlessly and just comes about so naturally – and that’s how books should be: real and diverse! This book has solid LGBT rep, characters who are a POC, reps for mental illness and disability (though some are not the main focus, but it’s hey! It’s there! That’s all I’m asking for.) – the book’s diversity is another reason why I adore it so much.
The writing is easy to read, HILARIOUS and I love the short chapters
(as it gives me the illusions/excuse that ‘you know what mate you’re only reading one more chapter okay *ends up reading 20 more chapters* oops’). Moreover, the way the story parallels the play A Midsummer Night’s Dream, as I’ve mentioned before, is though subtle, but is so wonderfully done! And I’m going to be honest with you, I never really get what this particular play is about despite watching it once at a school production, but thanks to this crash course – I do now! There’s also reference to Star Wars, Harry Potter, video games, boy bands and more! MY HEART IS IN CONTENT.
“Sometimes it’s hard to know if something’s for real? It’s hard to believe it, even if you want it to be real. Even if you want it so badly. Sometimes it seems…safer, you know. Not to risk it.”
All in all, this book gave me all the laughs, all the good-quality warm fuzz, all the deep thoughts and genuine feels of what it’s like to be surrounded by good people in your life and how lucky we are to be who we are. I highly recommend it to those who enjoy a good laugh, love sarcasm and most of all, looking for a fun and fulfilling read!
© Bibliophilic Med Student 2018. All Rights Reserved. Please do not use without permission. All opinions are my own and you can find me on Instagram @bibliomeds and Twitter. You can also follow me on Goodreads.