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The Heart Principle by Helen Hoang

The Heart Principle

3peat author

Helen Hoang is officially a 3-time author at BOTM, which is a pretty big deal!

by Helen Hoang

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Quick take

After a failed one-night stand (or two), Anna Sun realizes she might've found something rare with Quan Diep: true love.

Good to know

  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Romance


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Emotional


  • Illustrated icon, Icons_Millenial


  • Illustrated icon, Icon_Music



When violinist Anna Sun accidentally achieves career success with a viral YouTube video, she finds herself incapacitated and burned out from her attempts to replicate that moment. And when her longtime boyfriend announces he wants an open relationship before making a final commitment, a hurt and angry Anna decides that if he wants an open relationship, then she does, too. Translation: She's going to embark on a string of one-night stands. The more unacceptable the men, the better.

That’s where tattooed, motorcycle-riding Quan Diep comes in. Their first attempt at a one-night stand fails, as does their second, and their third, because being with Quan is more than sex—he accepts Anna on an unconditional level that she has just started to understand herself. However, when tragedy strikes Anna’s family she takes on a role that she is ill-suited for, until the burden of expectations threatens to destroy her. Anna and Quan have to fight for their chance at love, but to do that, they also have to fight for themselves.

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Free sample

Get an early look from the first pages of The Heart Principle.
The Heart Principle




That’s what I tell myself, anyway. I mean it every time. But then, every time, something happens—I make a mistake, I know I can do better, or I hear, in my head, what people will say.

So I stop and go back to the beginning, to get it right this time. And it’s really the last time this time.

Except it isn’t.

I’ve spent the past six months doing this, going over the same measures again and again like a rhinoceros pacing figure eights at the zoo. These notes don’t even make sense to me anymore. But I keep trying. Until my fingers hurt and my back aches and my wrist throbs with every pull of the bow on the strings. I ignore it all and give the music everything I have. Only when the timer goes off do I lower my violin from my chin.

My head is spinning, and I’m parched with thirst. I must have turned my lunch alarm off and forgotten to actually eat. That happens a lot more often than I care to admit. If it weren’t for the zillions of alarms on my phone, I might have accidentally ended myself by now. It’s out of consideration for life that I don’t keep any plants. I do have a pet. He’s a rock. His name is, very creatively, Rock.

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Why I love it

There’s nothing more exciting than the possibility of love. You scrutinize their dating profile. You decipher their text messages. You discover a mutual passion. You meet. Maybe you kiss for the first time. You open them up like a present. If you crave the electricity of these early moments (or if you’re a hardcore rom-com fan like me), then might I recommend The Heart Principle


Helen Hoang introduces us to Anna, a violinist who accidentally goes viral but is paralyzed with anxiety over her newfound fame. She’s practicing the same piece over and over, unable to play it straight through. She’s stuck in a loop—in art and life. Then her longtime boyfriend decides to open up their relationship, which is how she meets Quan. Quan rides a motorcycle and has tattoos. He’s not who she thought she would end up with. But he gets her. Plus, they discover a shared love of ocean documentaries. Maybe there really are other fish in the sea…

This book is much more than a fun, lighthearted romance. Anna’s father falls ill, and The Heart Principle tackles hard questions about familial expectations and taking care of a sick parent. Anna sees a therapist and receives a diagnosis that helps her put her relationships into perspective. I appreciated this novel’s frankness about the characters’ struggles with mental health, the awkwardness of new sex, and the nuances of Asian American identity. The Heart Principle is a winning balancing act. It throws relatable life problems at characters you can’t help but root for.

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Member ratings (19,811)

  • Sydney Y.

    Paris, TX

    The title/cover aren’t right for the book. Like ‘Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine’—if you know that going in to it, you’re more likely to enjoy. Truest thing Helen Hoang has ever written.❤️‍????

  • Lareign W.

    Vancouver, WA

    Whew, this walloped me. The cover doesn’t exactly scream “caretaker burnout ahead.” I’m not sure I’d classify this as a romance, but it works. It felt real even before I got to the author’s note.

  • Joyce D.


    Read in two sittings. Usually don’t go for romance but I’m glad I did! I loved the characters, all of their flaws, and their love. Hoang tackled some really tough topics in a fun and graceful way. ❤️

  • Logan M.

    Plano, TX

    THP took me by surprise — the summary’s deceiving. We’ve all struggled this year & someone with anxiety I felt seen. Anna & Quans thoughts are my own & Helen spoke to me like no one else has in awhile

  • Rylee W.

    Salt Lake City , UT

    Couldn’t put this one down. Anna & Quan’s journey throughout the book is beautifully written. Hated to see this story end when I finished. Powerful book about love, being human and journey’s we take.

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