I had the privilege of winning this book through the author’s giveaway! Many thanks to the publisher for providing an advanced readers copy.
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.
Have you ever felt that pure sense of contentment after finishing a book? That’s how I felt after reading The Secret of a Heart Note by Stacey Lee. What a lovely, lovely book.
In The Secret of a Heart Note, we see the extraordinary, unique, and magical life of being an aromateur. Paired with Lee’s splendid writing, Mim’s perspective was enjoyable and utterly unique. I loved learning about Mim’s world of being an aromateur, her struggles, and her way of life. The narrative evokes the olfactory senses with a variety of scents and smells intertwining with the storytelling. What I loved was that Lee used simple smells that readers are likely to be familiar with – blueberries, burned tires, and plums – rather than obscure smells (I can never imagine the smell of ‘sandalwood’!), making it easier to imagine and connect to the writing.
The characters in this story were delightful. Beginning with Mim, a lovely but lonely protagonist who does her absolute best despite her setbacks; Mim’s friend Kali, a force of her own, Samoan, brave, and true; Court, Mim’s kind, sweet love interest; and of course, Mim’s mother, Dahli, strict, tough, but absolutely loving. Though all characters were different from each other, I enjoyed their characterizations, their stories, and watching them develop as the story unfolded. More so, each character had their quirks, and the amazingly written interactions between the characters captured the realistic highs and lows that come with friendship and family. The Secret of a Heart Note also has a diversity of positive representation, which was refreshing and delightful to read.
At its gooey centre though, The Secret of a Heart Note is ultimately about love. Among its themes are familial love, friendship and the love between two friends, romantic love, and also the very nature of love. As aromateurs, Mim and her mother help people fall in love and find happiness. But, the book asks: What does it take to fall in love? Can love and falling in love be influenced, shaped, moulded? The story offers a fresh angle on these questions and accentuates the small things about love – its joys, its mysteries, and its moments of heartache.
A true highlight of the book was the complicated and dynamic relationship between Mim and her mother that was beautifully developed. While Mim struggles with the expectations of being the aromateur that her mother expects her to be, her mother’s high and inexpressible hope for Mim burdens them both. What I loved was that there was berth for imperfection in their relationship; not only was it realistic, but it was well-written and portrayed in a genuine and honest way.
I also loved the tentative friendship between Mim and Kali. Though their friendship isn’t intimate or very close, there’s a tenderness there when the two interact and I loved it. Their friendship depicts a friendship we don’t often seen in YA – a friendship that is special, where they do right by each other, but without the closeness common in YA. It was realistic, refreshing, and a little bittersweet.
The Secret of a Heart Note is a heartfelt story about the eccentricities and mysteries of love and falling in love. It is an exceptional coming-of-age. It explores a bit about family, a bit about friendship, and a bit about destiny. Recommended for those who want a heartfelt and light read, The Secret of a Heart Note is a gorgeous, gorgeous story filled with the sweet, bittersweet, and beautiful scents of life.
Book Name: The Secret of a Heart Note
Author: Stacey Lee
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Happy Book Birthday to Stacey Lee and The Secret of a Heart Note! I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. 😊
- Are you going to read The Secret of a Heart Note? Did you preorder it?
- If you’ve already read it, what did you think?
- Does your sense of smell get activated when you read? What are some of your favourite bookish smells – if that makes sense?!