The December Owlcrate “Seize the Day” book selection was Foolish Hearts by Emma Mills. I’m not a big YA contemporary reader. Usually, the main elements of YA contemporary annoy me and make me want to roll my eyes. But occasionally, I find a YA contemporary book that draws me in and makes me readjust my displeasure of the genre.
Foolish Hearts is one of these rare books.
After overhearing the breakup conversation of the cutest couple at school, Claudia finds herself on the bad side of the meanest girl in school. But when they’re forced to work on the school’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream together, Claudia finds herself in the midst of unexpected upsides. From accidentally making a new friend to meeting a boy with the most interesting laugh she’s ever heard, Claudia begins to wonder if change isn’t such a bad thing after all.
There are a lot of aspects of Foolish Hearts to admire. It’s funny, it includes a wide variety of good relationship dynamics, it has references to Shakespeare and fandom, and it pulls all of it together into a phenomenal story about growing up and learning to deal with change.
I don’t know if a book has truly made me laugh like Foolish Hearts has. There were so many good one-liners and a lot of playful banter between the characters that had me actually laughing out loud (or trying my best not to burst out laughing). I can appreciate a book with a good sense of humor, and I felt that Claudia’s humor level matched my own. Gideon’s ridiculous antics only furthered the hilarity.
The heart of the book, however, are the various relationships Claudia finds herself trying to juggle—anything from siblings to best friends since preschool to cute boys with weird laughs. I love that this book included strong, positive female friendships. Sure, there are still moments of teen girl bickering, but Claudia’s relationships with her best friend Zoe and her new friend Iris felt comfortable and realistic. I also love her relationships with both of her siblings. They too were realistic and relatable. Her relationship with Gideon was absolutely adorable. At times, I felt it was a little too perfect or too insta-y, but I understood their connection. I liked Gideon’s strong “bromance” with Noah as well. Basically, this book just had a lot of great relationship dynamics that I don’t often see developed or fulfilled in a YA novel.
Since this book is set around the production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, there are a lot of Shakespeare references, mainly about the play. I liked that Claudia was in tune with Shakespeare and understood what the text was doing. It was a cool addition to the story. Of course, Shakespeare isn’t the only reference in the book. Claudia and her friends play an online game called BattleQuest, and I freaking loved how it was described and how it became something more than just a game. (Can this game be real? Please?) There was also an obsession with a boy band that had me laughing and feeling all too nostalgic.
Foolish Hearts had a lot of wonderful plot threads that entwine and work together to tell Claudia’s story. From juggling her sister’s pregnancy and befriending Iris to meeting Gideon and dealing with newly revealed secrets, this book is packed with a lot of events and twists. Nothing felt too overwhelming or that it was overshadowing another aspect of the book. It felt balanced and clear yet it wove together in a meaningful way. I really enjoyed seeing how everything played out and coming to the same realizations that Claudia did.
There were two things about Foolish Hearts I wasn’t so keen about, though. I didn’t like the amount of cursing. It seemed excessive even if someone was going for the realistic approach. I also felt that at times it was a little bit cheesy and too light-hearted. It did have some deeper and meaningful moments, but there were a few scenes that felt way too dramatic. Like teenage angst much? But it was minimal, so I wasn’t annoyed like when I’ve read other YA contemporary books.
Overall, Foolish Hearts is a cute, funny, and fluffy read with a few scattered moments of something more. I laughed, I almost cried (there were tears in my eyes, people), and I related to Claudia in a way I didn’t expect. If you’re a fan of YA contemporary books or you want something light-hearted and fun, Foolish Hearts is the book for you.
Plus, the cover is freaking gorgeous.