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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

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.

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 (19,472)

  • 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.❤️‍????

  • 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. ❤️

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Rebecca B.

    Bellingham, WA

    Another great book by Helen. I enjoy having the main character struggle with real life issues. It’s refreshing to see a story line with real challenges and depth. Could not put the book down. ♥️♥️