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Heartbreak Symphony

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Clap When You Land meets On the Come Up in this heart-gripping story about navigating first love and overcoming grief through the power of music. Aarón Medrano has been haunted by the onstage persona of his favorite musician ever since his mother passed away. He seems to know all of Aarón’s deepest fears, like that his brain doesn’t work the way it should and that’s why his Clap When You Land meets On the Come Up in this heart-gripping story about navigating first love and overcoming grief through the power of music. Aarón Medrano has been haunted by the onstage persona of his favorite musician ever since his mother passed away. He seems to know all of Aarón’s deepest fears, like that his brain doesn’t work the way it should and that’s why his brother and father seems to be pushing him away. He thinks his ticket out is a scholarship to the prestigious Acadia School of Music. That is, if he can avoid blowing his audition. Mia Villanueva has a haunting of her own and it’s the only family heirloom her parents left her: doubt. It’s the reason she can’t overcome her stage fright or believe that her music is worth making. Even though her trumpet teacher tells her she has a gift, she’s not sure if she’ll ever figure out how to use it or if she’s even deserving of it in the first place. When Aarón and Mia cross paths, Aarón sees a chance to get close to the girl he’s had a crush on for years and to finally feel connected to someone since losing his mother. Mia sees a chance to hold herself accountable by making them both face their fears, and hopefully make their dreams come true. But soon they’ll realize there’s something much scarier than getting up on stage—falling in love with a broken heart.


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Clap When You Land meets On the Come Up in this heart-gripping story about navigating first love and overcoming grief through the power of music. Aarón Medrano has been haunted by the onstage persona of his favorite musician ever since his mother passed away. He seems to know all of Aarón’s deepest fears, like that his brain doesn’t work the way it should and that’s why his Clap When You Land meets On the Come Up in this heart-gripping story about navigating first love and overcoming grief through the power of music. Aarón Medrano has been haunted by the onstage persona of his favorite musician ever since his mother passed away. He seems to know all of Aarón’s deepest fears, like that his brain doesn’t work the way it should and that’s why his brother and father seems to be pushing him away. He thinks his ticket out is a scholarship to the prestigious Acadia School of Music. That is, if he can avoid blowing his audition. Mia Villanueva has a haunting of her own and it’s the only family heirloom her parents left her: doubt. It’s the reason she can’t overcome her stage fright or believe that her music is worth making. Even though her trumpet teacher tells her she has a gift, she’s not sure if she’ll ever figure out how to use it or if she’s even deserving of it in the first place. When Aarón and Mia cross paths, Aarón sees a chance to get close to the girl he’s had a crush on for years and to finally feel connected to someone since losing his mother. Mia sees a chance to hold herself accountable by making them both face their fears, and hopefully make their dreams come true. But soon they’ll realize there’s something much scarier than getting up on stage—falling in love with a broken heart.

30 review for Heartbreak Symphony

  1. 4 out of 5

    Alaina

    I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Heartbreak Symphony put me on a never-ending emotional elevator ride. It dove into so many hard topics that were eye opening and realistic. We see grief, mental illness, and immigration policies in play throughout the entire book. Some frustrated the hell out of me. Others made me sit back and think on everything. In this, you will meet Aarón and Mia. They have one thing in common and that's losing a parent. Well, I guess yo I have received this ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. Heartbreak Symphony put me on a never-ending emotional elevator ride. It dove into so many hard topics that were eye opening and realistic. We see grief, mental illness, and immigration policies in play throughout the entire book. Some frustrated the hell out of me. Others made me sit back and think on everything. In this, you will meet Aarón and Mia. They have one thing in common and that's losing a parent. Well, I guess you can say that they have two things in common because they love music. It helps them cope with everything and anything. Now these two were pretty likable. I honestly really enjoyed getting to know them and watching them grow throughout the book. Leaning on one another and seeking help were the best things they could do in order to really heal. As for everything else? Well, when protests and such came up due to ICE it definitely had me worried. Mostly because of how the media/police handles these situations and kind of twists and turns certain protests in a darker light. Even if it's peaceful. So, when that is what exactly happens in this book, well, it pissed me off. Other than that, I was really happy with how this all ended. Especially the last chapter because it was so freaking cute, and they truly deserve a better and happier life. I'm so happy that I got the chance to dive into this book and look forward to the next one Laekan writes!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Aly

    This book packed an emotional punch, addressing issues of grief, mental illness, and immigration policies. Despite these heavy issues, there's a sweet romance throughout and plenty of fun moments to balance out. Aarón and Mia have both lost a parent and are using music to help them through their sadness. When they both run away from a music school audition, they begin talking and realize they can help each other heal. This was so easy to dive into and I loved both characters. There are also seve This book packed an emotional punch, addressing issues of grief, mental illness, and immigration policies. Despite these heavy issues, there's a sweet romance throughout and plenty of fun moments to balance out. Aarón and Mia have both lost a parent and are using music to help them through their sadness. When they both run away from a music school audition, they begin talking and realize they can help each other heal. This was so easy to dive into and I loved both characters. There are also several great side characters, like Mr. Barrero, Andrés, and Jazzy. I love seeing a community come together and when people are being pulled out of their homes by ICE, everyone bands together and uses their strengths to protest. I can't say I know the fear of having my loved ones taken by the police, but the author does a great job of giving the reader a glimpse into what it's like. What a great debut novel and so relevant to issues people face everyday. I can't wait to see what the future holds for this author! I voluntarily read and reviewed this book and all opinions are my own. Thank you to Little Brown Books and NetGalley for the copy

  3. 5 out of 5

    Blue

    It's official: Laekan Zea Kemp is one of my favourite writers! I read Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet last year and absolutely loved it and Heartbreak Symphony is now one of my top, top, top favourite books. Kemp never disappoints! Aaah, if I could give this masterpiece of a book a million stars, I would. It's official: Laekan Zea Kemp is one of my favourite writers! I read Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet last year and absolutely loved it and Heartbreak Symphony is now one of my top, top, top favourite books. Kemp never disappoints! Aaah, if I could give this masterpiece of a book a million stars, I would.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Toya (the reading chemist)

    What an incredible book. Thoughts to come!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Fanna

    11.06.2021 clap when you land as a comp title means i should be ready to cry my heart out while reading this, okay. 11.06.2021 clap when you land as a comp title means i should be ready to cry my heart out while reading this, okay.

  6. 4 out of 5

    kim

    DNF @ 58% Thank you, Netgalley, for the ARC! I would like to preface this by saying that, aside from the beautiful cover, this book has many amazing reviews. Take mine with a grain of salt. I am the outlier here. It’s just that this book felt very slow which led to me being bored and losing interest. I think Aaròn and Mia had relatable stories and goals, and the prose about connecting music to grief and immigration were written beautifully.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Clap When You Land meets On the Come Up in this heart-gripping story about navigating first love and overcoming grief through the power of music. 🌸 Grief affects everyone differently some just move on and it hits them through smells, songs and memories. Others it changes them on a different level and leaving them a little altered so they don't feel alone.  Aarón Medrano's mother has passed away and it has strained his relationship with his family and left him haunted by his favorite musician who ha Clap When You Land meets On the Come Up in this heart-gripping story about navigating first love and overcoming grief through the power of music. 🌸 Grief affects everyone differently some just move on and it hits them through smells, songs and memories. Others it changes them on a different level and leaving them a little altered so they don't feel alone.  Aarón Medrano's mother has passed away and it has strained his relationship with his family and left him haunted by his favorite musician who has gone into hiding.  Mia Villanueva is grieving her father who passed after their mother abandoned their family and left her older brother to take care of them. They both are auditioning their talents but are afraid to put themselves out there. They are finding themselves in this very sensitive age and already have had to go through so much. Now they are not safe from the government while their neighborhood is being picked off by I C E . All of these supportive characters just plucked from their life and the characters own life never to be seen again. My niece and nephew are half Mexican and during the height of that time I was terrified by all the rhetoric and things randos were saying against Mexican Americans, I mean they can hear that. They are all listening. I don't know when people's couple generation immigrant status became better than newer immigrant status fing check your entitlement. This book was about grief, young love, struggles, desperate tough times and finding who you are through it all.  Thank you littlebrown and netgalley for the e-ARC for my honest and voluntary review.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Amy Sinn

    I received an ARC copy from Hachette Book Group. Heartbreak Symphony is a YA and goes on sale next month, April 2022. Wow! This book. Laekan Zea Kemp covered so much in this book. She covers weighty topics that kids shouldn't have to confront, but that are realistic. I've never used stickies while reading a book, but I used numerous ones in this book to highlight passages and quotes that were worth going back to and remembering. I also found that I wanted to research some of the things she talks I received an ARC copy from Hachette Book Group. Heartbreak Symphony is a YA and goes on sale next month, April 2022. Wow! This book. Laekan Zea Kemp covered so much in this book. She covers weighty topics that kids shouldn't have to confront, but that are realistic. I've never used stickies while reading a book, but I used numerous ones in this book to highlight passages and quotes that were worth going back to and remembering. I also found that I wanted to research some of the things she talks about to see if similar things really did happen in the Hispanic community. The issues are raw and real--police brutality, deportation, racism, mental health, poverty, community rallies, and protests--and you will cry for and pull for the characters all the way through. Mia is a talented trumpet player who is full of doubt. Her family is in turmoil and she turns to her trumpet teacher, and later, Aaron, a boy in similar pain, for some semblance of purpose and family. But she and her brothers are close and stick together, as does her tight-knit Hispanic community that is a character in itself -- Deb and the ladies at the library; Speedy, the singing guy who owns the convenience store; Mr. Barerro who cultivates Mia's talent, and his band; Mr. V, the bus driver; Officer Solis; Starfish, the mural painter, La Maquina, the big-hearted musician; and more. Aaron goes to Mia's school and is also a talented musician. He is still reeling from the death of his mother and the fact that his brother and father have shut down. He is full of pain and doubt, just like Mia, and they find solace in each other. Aaron has a "friend" that adds an interesting layer to his character. He and Mia want to audition for the same music academy but fate seems to have other plans. ... In the end, the community comes together, and Mia and Aaron's music lifts them up. Quotes to remember: "I am a whole universe. Expanding instead of shrinking. Wishing on stars instead of waiting for them to fall." "And I realize that falling in love is like writing the perfect song. Like the world is suddenly a symphony, the chaos of life transforming into chord structures, into a melody that only the two of us can hear." "Because I know that's what she would want--for me to survive this. So I try. By placing one foot in front of the other. By filling my lungs with air. Until someday maybe it won't feel like I'm trying or pretending or lying. It'll feel like being. Not living. But being. And maybe that will be enough."

  9. 4 out of 5

    ✧・゚⁽⁽ଘ Shreya ଓ⁾⁾✧・゚

    Thank you TBR and Beyond Tours and Netgalley for sending me a copy of this arc! My Rating: 4 stars This book dealt with important issues in a beautiful and impactful way, with fun scenes mixed in to balance it out. I loved both the main characters Mia and Aaron and seeing them grow throughout the book. I liked the side characters too, like Mr. Barrero, Andrés, and Nina. The romance was really sweet in how it felt truly genuine. I felt like in every interaction between them they were really being the Thank you TBR and Beyond Tours and Netgalley for sending me a copy of this arc! My Rating: 4 stars This book dealt with important issues in a beautiful and impactful way, with fun scenes mixed in to balance it out. I loved both the main characters Mia and Aaron and seeing them grow throughout the book. I liked the side characters too, like Mr. Barrero, Andrés, and Nina. The romance was really sweet in how it felt truly genuine. I felt like in every interaction between them they were really being themselves and that it made it all the more beautiful. Plot + Story The moment they made their pact (sealed with a pinky promise of course), set into the course the rest of their friendship and then relationship as well as their journey to finding their why. The emotions were very real "'It sounds like you were pretty fearless' 'Temporarily' From the strain on her face, I sense another memory coming to the surface, this one much darker. 'Until I learned to be afraid.'" and that's what really brought across the feelings of triumph that came with the character's growth. I loved how this story was about more than just our characters. It was also about community and activism and not giving up and that may have been one of my favorite parts. The ending was the most perfect ending for this book and I feel that it really was a win for the characters! This was a great debut novel and I look forward to seeing what else the author has in store! You can read by blog post with my favorite quotes here!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mayela

    First of all, thank you to Netgalley and Little, Brown and Company for providing me with an electronic ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. My first five star read of 2022, and what a beautiful one it was. Heartbreak Symphony is that rare book that presents as a quiet story of family grief, love, and music but grows into a complicated, heartbreaking story of grief for the world, hope, finding your place in the world, and being true to yourself. Aaron and Mia both know loss closely First of all, thank you to Netgalley and Little, Brown and Company for providing me with an electronic ARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. My first five star read of 2022, and what a beautiful one it was. Heartbreak Symphony is that rare book that presents as a quiet story of family grief, love, and music but grows into a complicated, heartbreaking story of grief for the world, hope, finding your place in the world, and being true to yourself. Aaron and Mia both know loss closely. Aaron's mom died 8 months ago; anxious since he was a kid, his mom was his sole friend. Since her death, Aaron can see the robot persona of his favorite musician and DJ, Xavier Lopez, a real musical star and his impoverished community's seemingly only positive call to fame. His twin brother and his father are grieving too, but in different ways that make Aaron feel more alone than if they didn't exist. Mia's mother abandoned the family when she was 12, soon after, her father - an alcoholic who had been slowly killing himself - died. She's been brought up by her brothers, barely older than her, and by Mr. Barrera - a former trumpeter who could see both her gift and her family wounds since she was little - Deb - the librarian - and others in their community. The characterizations were superb. Aaron and Mia, who share POV in this book, were both distinct people. With Aaron, you could sense the anxiety, the loneliness, the way he was barely holding on to sanity. With Mia, you could sense the fear, the self-doubt, the hopelessness. And through the story, you saw them change. Laekan Zae Kamp masterfully drew them out of their shells and pulled them together, to help each other in a way that only people who'd gone through so much, who'd grown with the same fears and hopes, could. If there's one thing I wish to make clear is that while Aaron and Mia are our individual conduits into this world, the melody that draws us in, the story is much bigger than just them. It's a veritable symphony of life in a community fighting against gentrification, a community struggling with its very real ills but also the desire of a white supremacist system to negate any good that they have. It's a story of activism, of how your voice matters, even when - maybe even more so - when you think you don't even have one. It's a story of family trauma partly caused by immigrating into a country with a system that doesn't want you, that refuses to acknowledge the value and worth you add except when it's convenient to them and on their own terms (there's a paragraph about "ethnic" food and fake allies that hit home). And it's a story of how you fight, you fight to make space, you fight for your community, you fight for your people, your culture, your roots and also your wings. The plot zips at a good pace once you get past the first couple of chapters in which we get situated. Once we reach past the halfway mark, when our entire cast is hard at work setting up a peaceful protest against the ICE raids that are making Austin feel the opposite of a sanctuary, it flies. I couldn't put it down. I needed to know if they'd make it, if they would be able to speak up, be heard. If it'd make a difference. I recommend this book to absolutely everyone who might read this review, but especially if your Latinx -you'll see yourself even if none of the stories are exactly like yours- or live in a community with a strong Latinx population - you might understand a bit better. "No," Mr. Barrero shakes his head. "We don't smash our dreams to pieces, do you understand me?" He grips my shoulders. "We don't give up."

  11. 4 out of 5

    Olivia

    HEARTBREAK SYMPHONY is a compelling and powerful YA contemporary romance about community, grief, and the power of music. Aaron is doing his best to get through life, still missing his mother since her death. Ever since the funeral, he has been followed by the imagined ghost of his favorite musician, La Maquina, who speaks to all his fears and worries. He has mixed feelings about applying for a unique scholarship to the private musical school with a scholarship for someone from one of the poorer HEARTBREAK SYMPHONY is a compelling and powerful YA contemporary romance about community, grief, and the power of music. Aaron is doing his best to get through life, still missing his mother since her death. Ever since the funeral, he has been followed by the imagined ghost of his favorite musician, La Maquina, who speaks to all his fears and worries. He has mixed feelings about applying for a unique scholarship to the private musical school with a scholarship for someone from one of the poorer public schools, but he tells himself that he will audition. Mia has a gift with the trumpet, which she learned in part to escape the trouble at home. She found a purpose in playing it, but her anxiety prevents her from sharing it with anyone else. On her way to the auditions, she runs into Aaron. They have a connection and so many similarities - from having lost a parent to their reservations to their love of music. While their paths continue to cross, ICE is doing more frequent raids amidst the difficulty with visa renewals, and they are seeing their neighbors losing loved ones and feeling powerless to stop it. What I loved: This is a really compelling and heartfelt read. Both Mia and Aaron are struggling with their grief and also struggles with anxiety/depression. I found it particularly powerful how Aaron seeks help and sees a therapist, despite resultant conflicts with his father. Mia and her brothers are also struggling with anxiety and trauma from their childhoods, and they are bound together through these strong bonds and coping in their own ways. Their relationship was really fantastic, and some of their conversations/scenes were heartfelt and lovely. The themes around music were also really powerful, and I loved the connection and the ways they came together through its power. Art holds its own magic, and that is conveyed not only through music, but also through poetry and painting by secondary characters. Other themes around immigration, community, protests, and prejudice faced made this a really potent and thought-provoking read. In particular, the book discusses ICE and the fear and trouble this can bring to communities, as well as the visa backlog that causes a lot of issues in even documented immigration. Law enforcement was another theme with how they react and treat different people as well as broader prejudices. The way that the community came together was also really powerful with protests, showing the importance of coming together and of standing up for your beliefs, even in the face of impossibility. The romance was also really fantastic, and it was so easy to cheer for and invest in both Mia and Aaron. They were beautiful characters, and their relationship was also really lovely. Final verdict: HEARTBREAK SYMPHONY is a thought-provoking and beautiful YA contemporary read. Highly recommend picking up this powerful book. Please note that I received an ARC. All opinions are my own.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Caitie

    Content Warnings: death of a parent, alcoholism, parental abandonment, immigration (being undocumented), grief, anxiety/depression. I am truly a fan of Laekan Zea Kemp's writing, she knows how to craft a strong story that packs a punch. This is an important story of two teens, Aaron and Mia, who are struggling in their own ways. Mia's mom left the family years before and her dad is dead, so she's being raised by her old brothers. Aaron's mom has just died of cancer and feels like his father and Content Warnings: death of a parent, alcoholism, parental abandonment, immigration (being undocumented), grief, anxiety/depression. I am truly a fan of Laekan Zea Kemp's writing, she knows how to craft a strong story that packs a punch. This is an important story of two teens, Aaron and Mia, who are struggling in their own ways. Mia's mom left the family years before and her dad is dead, so she's being raised by her old brothers. Aaron's mom has just died of cancer and feels like his father and brother don't understand him. When they both try out for the same music scholarship they realize they both have a lot in common. Through the usual ups and downs of being a teenager are compounded when things in their town take a turn when rallies break out over immigration. Mia and Aaron learn some uncomfortable truths about their families....and about themselves. I liked the representation of therapy in this book as well, it was done well so that the reader understands that opening up to someone can be hard at first. Also, yes, someone can suffer from anxiety for as long as they can remember. All in all a wonderful book!

  13. 5 out of 5

    USOM

    (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) Heartbreak Symphony is a book that develops in front of your eyes into a symphony. Sorry about that one, I had to do it! It's like where you hear a melody that keeps repeating - this constant string of complex family relationships full of unspoken silences, love, and pain - with new additions weaving throughout. There's a story line of love, of people who inspire us to see what th (Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.) Heartbreak Symphony is a book that develops in front of your eyes into a symphony. Sorry about that one, I had to do it! It's like where you hear a melody that keeps repeating - this constant string of complex family relationships full of unspoken silences, love, and pain - with new additions weaving throughout. There's a story line of love, of people who inspire us to see what they see in us. At the same time, it's rooted in grief and trauma, of this paralyzing fear of our loved ones being take from us. Your heart will feel every emotion while reading Heartbreak Symphony. Mia and Aarón's lives orbit around family expectations, around secret moments, and music which connects us. The weight of what it would mean not only to fail, but also to want something so badly. Leaning into immigration, fear, community, and solidarity, Heartbreak Symphony takes place after Zea Kemp's first book. It's a delightful twist, for fans like I am, but also grounds these fears, gentrification, and community in a larger context and picture. full review: https://utopia-state-of-mind.com/revi...

  14. 4 out of 5

    Loretta (Taylor’s Version)

    I love seeing Mexican characters!! AND THE MUSIC I loved all the quotes that had to do with music especially the last one like WOW look at this beauty: “And I realize that falling in love is like writing the perfect song. Like the world is suddenly a symphony, the chaos of life transforming into chord structures, into a melody that only the two of us can hear.” That and the whole last page was perfection argue with the wall. 4.25

  15. 4 out of 5

    Finn

    i loved this book a whole lot more that i originally anticipated when going into it. Star Rating- 5 Release Date- April 5th 2022 Characters- I loved the two main characters of this book, Aarón and Mia. It was told from both of their povs and I really feel like I got to know them from that. The side characters aswell were all really developed, and I got to see the main characters view on them. Plot/Spacing- The plot was fantastic, and this is all about finding the why in life, and grief, and finding i loved this book a whole lot more that i originally anticipated when going into it. Star Rating- 5 Release Date- April 5th 2022 Characters- I loved the two main characters of this book, Aarón and Mia. It was told from both of their povs and I really feel like I got to know them from that. The side characters aswell were all really developed, and I got to see the main characters view on them. Plot/Spacing- The plot was fantastic, and this is all about finding the why in life, and grief, and finding those people who will support you no matter what, and there was also music involved. I like the bit of romance, it was overshadowing the main point of the novel, the grief, which was amazingly written. The spacing was also faster paced which kept me on my feet. What I Liked- I loved the music aspect, the fact that it can bring people together in a good way, and just magical it is, while also being real. I loved the relationships between the different characters, and you can find your home in people, and not always in a place. What I Disliked- There wasn't really anything I disliked.

  16. 4 out of 5

    paperbacktomes

    My Rating: 4 Stars The Heartbreak Symphony is a layered story with expressive prose. Mia’s brothers were sweet characters and they (and the others) didn’t deserve the pain and misery added to their lives. Mia and Aarón’s anxiety permeated the story. I liked how they made their voices heard against violence through music. I wasn’t aware of ICE, so this book was an eye-opener for me. It threw light on contemporary matters and mental health issues breaking the stigma around seeking mental help. Ther My Rating: 4 Stars The Heartbreak Symphony is a layered story with expressive prose. Mia’s brothers were sweet characters and they (and the others) didn’t deserve the pain and misery added to their lives. Mia and Aarón’s anxiety permeated the story. I liked how they made their voices heard against violence through music. I wasn’t aware of ICE, so this book was an eye-opener for me. It threw light on contemporary matters and mental health issues breaking the stigma around seeking mental help. There's so much packed in this book, and I don't want to spill everything here. Do pick it up if you want something real and a reminder of the violence inflicted on the Latino community in America. You can read my full review on my BLOG. Thanks to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, NetGalley, and TBRBeyondTours for the eARC of the book!

  17. 4 out of 5

    afternoonsunjeans

    everything about this sounds raw and intricate and quiet and beautiful.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dai Guerra

    Thoughts and Themes: I decided that I had to read this book as I loved the author’s debut novel. I was so pleased to find that while this book is also a romance like the first one it was significantly different but just as great. There are so many sections of this book that I highlighted on my kindle because of how these lines spoke to me. Something that I really enjoyed about this book was how our main characters communicate with each other and the world through music. It reminded me of how I us Thoughts and Themes: I decided that I had to read this book as I loved the author’s debut novel. I was so pleased to find that while this book is also a romance like the first one it was significantly different but just as great. There are so many sections of this book that I highlighted on my kindle because of how these lines spoke to me. Something that I really enjoyed about this book was how our main characters communicate with each other and the world through music. It reminded me of how I use songs to convey my feelings and sometimes only songs or books completely understand the way that I am feeling. I liked that these two main characters were able to pour themselves into music and how music shapes their lives. Something else that I loved about this book was the way that it handled grieving and how we see different ways in which people are handling grief. I thought it was great to see both guys and girls dealing with grief, and how both Aaron and Mia lost their parents in different ways. I think because of the way that they lost their parents, the grief that they experience is different and while one of each of their parents is alive, they still are grieving because it is the loss of the parent they had before. I really enjoyed how this book added the musician into the story and how he was an important part of Aaron’s life and grieving process. I thought it was a great way to show how everyone can have mental health issues and I loved the way he took care of himself. I don’t want to spoil that for you so I’ll let you read to see more about him. Characters: There are several characters that you get to meet through their interactions with our main characters, Mia and Aaron. You get introduced to Mia’s siblings, friends, and family, and Aaron’s family and friends too. I loved reading the interactions that Mia has with her brothers and how they try to heal each other. I liked getting to see how they raised her and also getting to see each of them show their grief in a different way. I really liked getting the chance to see how one of her brothers was healing through poetry but how he was still hiding and he only gets the courage to present to show her that it is possible. I also really enjoy the theme of found family in this book which you really see through the people in the neighborhood. I loved getting the chance to meet Mr. Barrero who takes care of both Mia and Aaron when they need an adult figure in their lives. I really liked seeing how this man has shaped both of these people’s lives and how important he is to them. I also like how we get to see his back story as well to understand why he feels the way he does about Mia. Writing Style: This story is written from a dual point of view that goes back and forth from our main characters, Aaron and Mia. I really liked getting to read this story from both of their perspectives since I think they both add different things to the story. I really liked getting to go back and forth between these two characters because they had things going on in both of their lives that weren’t intertwined with each other.

  19. 5 out of 5

    M.L. Sexton

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Thank you to TheNovl and Storygram tours for this ARC. This book was tragically beautiful. Aaron and Mia have been and still are going through a lot of trauma from their neighbors being detained by ICE and facing deportation, to trying to get into Acadia, to dealing with the grief of losing one or both parents. Aaron has an estranged relationship with his dad and brother since his mom died. His grief is rooted in fear and comes in the form of a robot who he feels is Xavier, a popular musician. F Thank you to TheNovl and Storygram tours for this ARC. This book was tragically beautiful. Aaron and Mia have been and still are going through a lot of trauma from their neighbors being detained by ICE and facing deportation, to trying to get into Acadia, to dealing with the grief of losing one or both parents. Aaron has an estranged relationship with his dad and brother since his mom died. His grief is rooted in fear and comes in the form of a robot who he feels is Xavier, a popular musician. For him to be so young and to choose therapy, knowing that therapy is seen as taboo in the Black and Brown communities, is commendable. His dad even says what I’ve heard a lot in the Black community and that’s basically therapy is for rich white people. Eventually, he learns to live in his grief and not let it control him. He also falls in love with Mia Mia wants to sing, but her fear is rooting in her thinking that the cowardice of her parents is hereditary. Her mom ran off because being a wife and mom was too hard, and her father took his own life because he took her mother running off too hard. Her brothers, Jazzy and Andres, are trying to help raise her and figure out their own issues, a major one being that Andres is undocumented and is on the verge of being deported after a peaceful protest turned violent at the hands of ICE and the cops. What I resonate with so much is the police brutality that is also rampant in my own community. For the Latinx community, people are either being killed or deported, ripping families apart. This book is not only political, but it shows the strength of two young people who overcome fear and grief in order to support those around them and try to make a change in their community. This was a beautiful read and it definitely is up there with my top 5 reads of the year.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Courtney

    I received an ARC from the publisher and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own. Heartbreak Symphony is a beautiful, poignant love story about two teens who each are coping with the grief of losing a parent, and seeing music as an outlet with which to cope. It’s a wonderful exploration of these complex emotions, and how Aarón and Mia help each other on their respective paths to healing. I love the nuanced approach to the exploration of grief and navigating care for one’s mental I received an ARC from the publisher and am voluntarily posting a review. All opinions are my own. Heartbreak Symphony is a beautiful, poignant love story about two teens who each are coping with the grief of losing a parent, and seeing music as an outlet with which to cope. It’s a wonderful exploration of these complex emotions, and how Aarón and Mia help each other on their respective paths to healing. I love the nuanced approach to the exploration of grief and navigating care for one’s mental health. Aarón and Mia find themselves struggling in similar, yet also subtly different ways; Mia with self-doubt and Aarón with crippling anxiety and fear. And the way they not only provide support for each other, but also end up seeking outside professional help, was wonderful to see. I also appreciate the way issues like gentrification, racism, and deportation that the wider Hispanic American community face in the narrative is incorporated. And the fact that there are also some wonderful side characters that make up the community who come together in protest of these injustices adds another layer of beauty to an already excellent book. I really enjoyed this book, and would recommend it to anyone looking for a hard-hitting YA contemporary romance.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Abigail Singrey

    At the heart of Heartbreak Symphony is two teens whose worlds have shattered with the death of a parent. Mia and Aaron meet when they both are too afraid to go ahead with a music school audition, but it's their pain and heartbreak that really bonds them. Both use music to express all the emotions they can't find any other way to deal with. Their loss is set against the backdrop of the losses their Latinx community is suffering due to ICE raids and a planned community protest. There's a lot to un At the heart of Heartbreak Symphony is two teens whose worlds have shattered with the death of a parent. Mia and Aaron meet when they both are too afraid to go ahead with a music school audition, but it's their pain and heartbreak that really bonds them. Both use music to express all the emotions they can't find any other way to deal with. Their loss is set against the backdrop of the losses their Latinx community is suffering due to ICE raids and a planned community protest. There's a lot to unpack in this book, with Aaron visualizing his grief as a trash-talking robot and communicating with a mysterious person who may be a famous musician who sends him on tasks to help the community. Mia's music teacher also gets Parkinsons, leading to more grief. But Mia and Aaron give each other the courage to pull out of their grief and learn to live again. I felt this moved a little slowly at times, and I had a hard time remembering which characters were connected to which tragedy. But the love and strength of the community shines through in all of the supporting characters who make up Aaron and Mia's shared world. Thank you to NetGalley for the advance review copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    GK

    The heaviest topics can often be the hardest to read about. The Heartbreak Symphony takes us through the lives of two teens who are at the cusp of adulthood where everything is going to change. New chapters are on the horizon, but Aaron and Mia are navigating through the challenges of deportation of loved ones, the loss of parents, and growing up in times of extreme uncertainty. They're dealing with all of this through the only way they know how: music. Both seek entrance into the prestigious Aca The heaviest topics can often be the hardest to read about. The Heartbreak Symphony takes us through the lives of two teens who are at the cusp of adulthood where everything is going to change. New chapters are on the horizon, but Aaron and Mia are navigating through the challenges of deportation of loved ones, the loss of parents, and growing up in times of extreme uncertainty. They're dealing with all of this through the only way they know how: music. Both seek entrance into the prestigious Acadia School of Music but sometimes fear is a hard thing to conquer. At times the point of views could get a little confusing, but I loved the way the stories intertwined. Not only did I find this book to have some factors that I relate to in regards to the death of a parent, but it also informatively detailed the risks and efforts some of our Hispanic people go through to live in America. Thank you to NetGalley and Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publishing for providing an advance copy of this book for me to enjoy. As always, this book was read and reviewed voluntarily, and the opinions stated above are completely my own.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katie | niftyreads

    HEARTBREAK SYMPHONY by Leakan Zea Kemp was one of those heart-gripping, gut-wrenching reads, and then I received the audiobook… 😳 Whoa, did the narration by Robb Moreira and Tania Possick ever take this book up a notch! Ohmigoodness - the feels! 🥹 I knew I was reading an emotionally charged book, but to hear Aarón and Mia speak their thoughts and feelings made my heart soar. This is such an important story and one that should not be missed! I loved so many things about this book because it’s writ HEARTBREAK SYMPHONY by Leakan Zea Kemp was one of those heart-gripping, gut-wrenching reads, and then I received the audiobook… 😳 Whoa, did the narration by Robb Moreira and Tania Possick ever take this book up a notch! Ohmigoodness - the feels! 🥹 I knew I was reading an emotionally charged book, but to hear Aarón and Mia speak their thoughts and feelings made my heart soar. This is such an important story and one that should not be missed! I loved so many things about this book because it’s written so well. It weaves a beautiful narrative between Aarón and Mia, both battling their demons yet finding time to connect with and help each other. A few of my favorite things: 🎧The fuzzy feeling of first love. Who doesn’t love that? 🎧The topic of immigration is handled so well in this book. It’s woven into the entire storyline, and we see it through different eyes. It’s empowering, heartbreaking, and hopeful. 🎧Having dealt with the complex mixture of grief and anxiety myself, it is written so well here. Is it weird to say that it feels like coming home? Not that I want to feel that feeling again, but it was recognizable to me, which means I hope it educates others on that feeling so they will better understand people in their lives. I can’t say enough positive things about this book. I think it should be required reading in high schools everywhere due to all the important issues it brings up, but who am I to make that ruling? 😏 Thanks to The Novl and Hachette Audio for the gifted books! • Content warnings: familial death, grief, immigration/being undocumented/deportation, parental abandonment, anxiety/panic attacks, alcoholism, terminal illness

  24. 4 out of 5

    mikayla mae

    Heartbreak Symphony is nearly exactly what the title offers; a community of people who have experienced heartbreak and are able to turn it into something beautiful. I absolutely loved Heartbreak Symphony. From the stunning cover art to the utterly compelling summary to the lyrical writing between the covers, this book was an easy 5 star read. As you follow both Aarón and Mia, who have both experienced loss and are using music to help themselves cope, you find yourself pulled into their world. Aa Heartbreak Symphony is nearly exactly what the title offers; a community of people who have experienced heartbreak and are able to turn it into something beautiful. I absolutely loved Heartbreak Symphony. From the stunning cover art to the utterly compelling summary to the lyrical writing between the covers, this book was an easy 5 star read. As you follow both Aarón and Mia, who have both experienced loss and are using music to help themselves cope, you find yourself pulled into their world. Aarón and Mia both live in a community plagued by police and ICE visits, grief and loss, as well as music. Although I have never first hand felt what the characters in Heartbreak Symphony have felt, I was able to understand the other side, the side that these people go through on a nearly daily basis. Mystery, romance and music come together to form the absolute masterpiece that is Heartbreak Symphony. Thank you to NetGalley, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers and Laekan Zea Kemp for an advanced copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Celia

    Big thanks to NOVL for the arc!! This book was everything I expected! This book covers so much: mental health, racism, police brutality, and poverty...but the author navigates them in a realistic and raw way. This book will impact you in ways you never imagined. It will give you hope and will even make you sniffle a bit. I didn't sniffle, though. I full-on CRIED. Barring my tear-filled face, I loved seeing Aaron and Mia grow and I rooted for them every step of the way. They both know loss very de Big thanks to NOVL for the arc!! This book was everything I expected! This book covers so much: mental health, racism, police brutality, and poverty...but the author navigates them in a realistic and raw way. This book will impact you in ways you never imagined. It will give you hope and will even make you sniffle a bit. I didn't sniffle, though. I full-on CRIED. Barring my tear-filled face, I loved seeing Aaron and Mia grow and I rooted for them every step of the way. They both know loss very deeply. Aaron's mother died whereas Mia's mother left her family with an alcoholic father who eventually dies himself. Both deal with their losses through anxiety and hopelessness. I loved how the author put them together to not only share in their grief but to grow in hope and love. This compelling and powerful story set before the theme of music will make you laugh and cry and I think everyone should read it. (I know I ask a lot of you) TW: death, depression, grief, substance abuse.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Terry Jennings

    Heartbreak Symphony is the personal heartbreak of Mia and Aaron who are both dealing with the death of a parent, coupled with the drastic enforcement of immigration laws which tears a community apart. The symphony is the music which soars when their love blooms. While each of them is fighting the demon's of their own story, the plot unfolds seamlessly to lead to a crescendo when Mia and Aaron use their music to add fire to a protest to help bring change to their community. I loved the connection Heartbreak Symphony is the personal heartbreak of Mia and Aaron who are both dealing with the death of a parent, coupled with the drastic enforcement of immigration laws which tears a community apart. The symphony is the music which soars when their love blooms. While each of them is fighting the demon's of their own story, the plot unfolds seamlessly to lead to a crescendo when Mia and Aaron use their music to add fire to a protest to help bring change to their community. I loved the connection of the members of the community, and I loved the prose. "Sometimes being alive is like watching the sun filter through the rose-colored glass and sometimes it's like clutching a piece of that broken glass in your palm." "Joy and pain. Love and hate. Two notes in the same song, each taking the lead in different moments of our life ... White noise that makes us forget that life was ever a song of begin with."

  27. 5 out of 5

    Cathy

    This book was intense, and as I read the about the author I thought she definitely succeeded in accomplishing her three objectives. To make people laugh, cry and crave Mexican food. I felt all three of those things. But like I said this book was definitely a journey through the world of Mexican immigrants, their children and their community. It was empowering, insightful and endearing at moments. This is a must read for anyone who wants to truly know what it feels like to be an immigrant, to be This book was intense, and as I read the about the author I thought she definitely succeeded in accomplishing her three objectives. To make people laugh, cry and crave Mexican food. I felt all three of those things. But like I said this book was definitely a journey through the world of Mexican immigrants, their children and their community. It was empowering, insightful and endearing at moments. This is a must read for anyone who wants to truly know what it feels like to be an immigrant, to be undocumented, to be a dreamer. Life is not easy and you are always worrying about everyone else and yourself, it's hard. This book was hard at times but it was real and it was raw. Must read. Period.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Evelyn

    Picked this one up from a student recommendation. While overall I didn't enjoy the writing as much, I did enjoy the stories and the ideas behind them. This book highlights the very real struggles of immigrants trying to survive in a city/country that does not support them. The two main characters, Aarón and Mia have similar yet different struggles with their blood-family and have found people in their community that become as family to them, encouraging them to pull on their strengths to help ot Picked this one up from a student recommendation. While overall I didn't enjoy the writing as much, I did enjoy the stories and the ideas behind them. This book highlights the very real struggles of immigrants trying to survive in a city/country that does not support them. The two main characters, Aarón and Mia have similar yet different struggles with their blood-family and have found people in their community that become as family to them, encouraging them to pull on their strengths to help others. I did really enjoy how the author showed the power music has for people of all generations and placed in life. The description in those cases I loved! Overall, I would probably recommend this to students as a relatively quick read for them.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vanessa Torres

    I had the pleasure of reading the ARC of Zea Kemp's debut, SOMEWHERE BETWEEN BITTER AND SWEET, so I was super excited to get my hands on her sophomore book because I loved SBBAS so much. HEARTBREAK SYMPHONY did not disappoint. It's a love story, a story about the complications that come with finding one's self and the discovery of courage within. The dual point of view was spot on and so much fun to read. With strong voices deeply rooted in history, grief, struggles and their unknown futures, I I had the pleasure of reading the ARC of Zea Kemp's debut, SOMEWHERE BETWEEN BITTER AND SWEET, so I was super excited to get my hands on her sophomore book because I loved SBBAS so much. HEARTBREAK SYMPHONY did not disappoint. It's a love story, a story about the complications that come with finding one's self and the discovery of courage within. The dual point of view was spot on and so much fun to read. With strong voices deeply rooted in history, grief, struggles and their unknown futures, I absolutely loved following Mia and Aarón's journeys. I can't wait to see what's next from Laekan Zea Kemp.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Yoselis

    I didn’t think I’d fall in love again, but this book ended up making me cry and feel things deeply to my soul. It started off slow and I didn’t see how the connection would come through romantically for the protagonists but somewhere in the middle it happened and it seemed obvious. Maybe it was me- I was in a rough patch when I started the book. Kemp handled issues of identity, of race, of emotions so real, and mental health so well. There was a point in the book where I had to stop after a powe I didn’t think I’d fall in love again, but this book ended up making me cry and feel things deeply to my soul. It started off slow and I didn’t see how the connection would come through romantically for the protagonists but somewhere in the middle it happened and it seemed obvious. Maybe it was me- I was in a rough patch when I started the book. Kemp handled issues of identity, of race, of emotions so real, and mental health so well. There was a point in the book where I had to stop after a powerful line and I had to let it sit for a minute. And after that first one, it was one wave after another. It brought me hope and I loved it.

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