Author: Stacey Lee
Genre: contemporary, magical realsim
Published: expected December 27 2016
Source: publishers via edelweiss
An evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs
Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.
At once hopeful, funny, and romantic, Stacey Lee’s The Secret of a Heart Note is a richly evocative coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on falling in love and finding one’s place in the world.
So this was... a pretty cute story! I hate to damn this magical realism contemporary with faint praise because I actually did like The Secrets of a Heart Note. I just didn't really emotionally connect to the main character of Mim or get strong enough feelings about anything involving her romantic life enough to love it. There's far more to enjoy than otherwise in Stacey Lee's newest YA novel (creativity! strong writing! PoC main characters!), but it lacked the emotional core needed for me to truly invest and engage with the story.
I think the heart of the issue was that I found the lore and idea of the aromateurs far more interesting and original than the teenage romance that the book focuses on instead. I was far more interested in Mim's growing pains with her mom and her complicated friendship but found less time exploring that than devoted to more generic YA staples. Stacey Lee has a creative angle for the contemporary novel but it feels like more of a crutch to be overcome than a viable element in Mim's world. I was very interested in the bits of information let slip in the narrative but it's far from a complete picture.