Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills is a heartwarming story that features a cast of characters that feel genuine and while it may not change your worldview, it certainly left me smiling.
The main character, Claudia, feels that she doesn’t fit in at her all-girls private school with the fancy parties, extravagant mansions and luxury goods. At the beginning of a school party, she witnesses the breakup of the “it” couple at school. This leads her down a slippery slope that leads to Iris, one half of the couple, and Claudia working on a production of Midsummer’s Night Dream with the boys school next door. She meets new people and manages to try and find her place in a new community while also managing family.
Although there is a romance, it is by far not the most important part of the book. The book thrives on the large cast of characters. A large part of the cast are LGBT+ and People of Color are not defined by their identity, which is refreshing compared to most media which typically only have one or two people who are supposed to represent all of those people. But with a varied and diverse cast of characters, it seems more accurate to different experiences.
One exception to this was with Noah, a character who has epilepsy. This portrayal may be accurate to a small portion of people with epilepsy, but it does not account for the majority of experiences. The experience I have with epilepsy felt diminished by the description surrounding it. It only portrays it in a very negative light and the writing makes it feel as if the author seems to pity him, and wants the readers to as well.
Young Adult is a unique form of literature but, it has its shortcomings. One of those that characters are rarely aware of their social class and make the assumption that everyone is upper middle class. Claudia’s best friend, Zoe, attends a public school and she comes to realize the privilege she has attending a private institution.. Zoe, attends public school and could not afford a private education. Her other close friend, Iris, has a personal driver and lives in a lavish home. The difference in social class is highlighted but Mills also shows that someone is not defined by their social class even though it is an influential factor in shaping their worldviews.
The dialogue feels genuine to high school students, I could see myself and my friends saying similar things, and I could relate to some of the troubles Claudia went through. Dealing with family, friends and how to manage the future are all struggles that anyone in high school can relate to.
One unrealistic aspect is the “fandom” element in the book. A boyband is introduced and described, similar to One Direction. The boy band felt underdeveloped as it relies on information revealed in Mills’ previous work. Character development is heavily tied to this aspect of the book so it is hard to grasp what she truly wants the reader to get out of it.
Overall, I really enjoyed this book and I flew through it in one night. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a lighthearted read.
Written by Staff Writer Sara Short
Photo from Goodreads