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Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things by Jacqueline Firkins
Young adult

Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things


We love supporting debut authors. Congrats, Jacqueline Firkins, on your first book!

by Jacqueline Firkins

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Quick take

Your modern retelling of Mansfield Park. Cue cute love interests, witty dialogue, and awfully difficult decisions.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Romance


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_FastRead

    Fast read

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_LoveTriangle

    Love triangle

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_BasedOnAClassic

    Based on a classic


Mansfield, Massachusetts is the last place seventeen-year-old Edie Price wants to spend her final summer before college. It’s the home of wealthy suburbanites and prima donnas like Edie’s cousins, who are determined to distract her from her mother’s death with cute boys and Cinderella-style makeovers. Edie has her own plans, and they don’t include a prince charming.

But as Edie dives into schoolwork and applying for college scholarships, she finds herself drawn to two Mansfield boys who start vying for her attention. First there's Sebastian, Edie’s childhood friend and first love. He’s sweet and smart and ... already has a girlfriend. Then there's Henry, the local bad boy and all-around player. He’s totally off limits, even if his kisses are chemically addictive.

Both boys are trouble. Edie can’t help but get caught between them. Someone's heart is going to break. Now she just has to make sure it isn't hers.

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Check out a preview of Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things.
Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things

Chapter One

At first the car ride was simply annoying. Edie slouched in the back seat of the SUV, clutching her mom’s sticker-coated guitar case. Her uncle Bert kept his eye on the road, characteristically quiet. Her aunt Norah blithely rattled on from the passenger seat, characteristically not so quiet. She was lost in speculation about the challenges Poor Edith would face now that she’d left foster care and come to live in “a real home.” Edie didn’t have a stable upbringing, a private education, or any exposure to society. Her wardrobe was atrocious. Her posture was appalling. She had bright orange cheese powder under her ragged fingernails, proving she had no understanding of proper diet or personal care. She was practically poisoning herself.

“And that hair!” Norah exclaimed. “Good lord, what will the neighbors say?”

Edie sank a little lower and tried to finger comb through the worst of her tangles, unsure why the neighbors would care about something as trivial as her hair. The purple dye that clung to the tips had long since faded to a subtle shade of lavender. The rest was a painfully ordinary shade of brown. It was dry and frizzy, and she hadn’t cut it for a couple years, but it was just hair.

“Don’t worry,” Bert assured Norah, drawing her attention away from the back seat. “You’ll get Edith up to snuff in no time. Why, look what you’ve done with me.”

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Why I love it

Take one part Jane Austen romance, two parts ‘90s teen movie decadence, add a generous splash of youthful introspection, shake it all up, and divide it into two tall, equally beautiful glasses: That’s my recipe for the sweet and sour cocktail that is Jacqueline Firkins’s debut YA contemporary novel, Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things.

Our heroine Edie Price has just moved to her aunt and uncle’s home in Mansfield, MA, after a year spent in foster care. Following her free-spirited musician mother’s death, Edie is struggling—with her creativity; a falling out with her best friend, Shonda; and figuring out where she fits in the high-stakes world of her sophisticated cousins, Maria and Julia, and their wealthy friends. Things only get more complicated (and the book’s plot delightfully steamier) when Edie is thrust into a love triangle with her longtime crush, Sebastian, and Mansfield’s most sought after bad boy, Henry, whose reputation as a heartbreaker precedes him.

I wouldn’t consider myself an Austen fanatic, but you don’t have to be familiar with the source material to fall in love with this modern Mansfield Park retelling. Firkins perfectly captures the all-consuming emotions of first love(s), the struggle to decide who we truly are, and the exhilaration of standing at the precipice of adulthood—feelings that anyone who is, or has ever been, a teenager will know all too well.

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Member ratings (805)

  • KELLY B.

    Edmeston, NY

    Even in my 50’s I love a good YA book-especially one based on a Jane Austen classic. The main characters were likable and I found myself rooting for them. No need to have read Mansfield Park to enjoy

  • Maddie J.

    Indianapolis, IN

    This was a great read i loved how it keep me guessing on who this amazing character would end up with. Im glad “henry crawford” had good intentions and didnt cheat like the jane austin book did .

  • Megan T.

    Aubrey, TX

    Really cute, high school romance I wish I had had 20 years ago. It started a little slow, but once it picked up I was hooked. It left me sad, proud, hopeful, and swoony all at once. Sweet little read.

  • Stephanie M.

    Lancaster, PA

    I liked the main character had to deal with a loss. I enjoyed the setting of the story. I like how this story took place in the summer. It was interesting to how a young adult dealt with stress.

  • Adele S.

    Ridgefield, WA

    Had a hard time putting this one down. Was surprised how aware the main character was of her feelings and emotions at that age but the book was incredibly written. Loved how the story was updated.

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