Writer Marilyn Boone’s Heartstrings begins as High School Senior, Anna Holmes is astonished to come face to face with fellow senior, E. C. Coleman, Madison High School’s star football player who will be volunteering a few hours at the Samaritan Center; Anna helps dish up the food to be served to the hungry who come to eat at the Samaritan Center where she has been volunteering for several years.
The pair begin a rather wary relationship. E. C. is, Anna believes, quite as she expected; arrogant, narcissistic and only there for a grade. Mr. Jenkins, teacher during last hour government class, encourages his students to do some volunteering at various charitable venues in town. While E. C. is a child of wealthy influential parents; Anna and her asthmatic little brother live upstairs over the family restaurant.
One high spot for Anna is the weekly violin lessons she receives from Louisa, the center’s resident housekeeper. Louisa is a quiet woman who says little. Over time Anna learns more of Louisa’s life and the sorrow she bears, both her husband and son died in Hungary during the 1956 uprising.
Anna is dedicated to her dream of perfecting her musical prowess and receiving a violin scholarship to university while keeping her grades up, volunteering at the center and helping with the family café where she helps with whatever needs the most attention. When Louisa dies of illness just after Anna has taken part in a music competition; Anna is bereft.
Anna has had a hard time believing in herself; with Louisa’s encouragement Anna has grown as a musician and Anna had been coming to grips with her hopes, dreams, and the world in general. Louisa’s death leaves Anna feeling unsure what she should do.
Heartstrings is a nice, positive, coming of age tale in which characters are well developed, conversations are plausible, situations, are somewhat predictable and realizations that foregone conclusions developed before actually getting to know others around themselves may not be wholly accurate.
Anna is a girl filled with many of the angst producing self-doubts as countless young people her age often feel. Anna’s gentle, understanding, manner with the folks who come to the center to eat does not carry over to her relationships with fellow students. As she comes to know more of the students at her school, Anna begins to realize that what she has thought to be self-importance or arrogance may not be that at all. Dialogue between characters is believable, vocabulary is always acceptable, settings are nicely detailed, I enjoyed reading the narrative and watching as Anna grew in serenity, perception and wider understanding toward others peopling the tale.
Watching the misunderstanding falling away as E. C. and Anna reveal more of their true selves to each other and to themselves as well, has produced a highly readable, gently romantic, account sure to please those who enjoy a little romance intertwined in a down to earth, slice of life story.
No coarse language, no sexual innuendo. Enjoyed Marilyn Boone’s Heartstrings . Highly Recommended for the Young Adult audience.