Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things: A Cute, Modern Retelling of Jane Austen’s ‘Mansfield Park’

4/5 Stars

Author: Jacqueline Firkins

Publisher/Imprint: HMH Books for Young Readers

Edition: Paperback ARC, 371 Pages

Hardcover Publication Date: December 17, 2019

A Spine that Shines? Quite Well!

*This review is based on a paperback ARC edition received from the publisher. All quotes used in this review come from the uncorrected proof. These are my honest opinions. Thank you.*

‘Hearts were fragile things, prone to fractures, though they were surprisingly strong, too.’

-Jacqueline Firkins, Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things

Initial Thoughts

For a debut novel, Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things is done quite well! This book is a cute, modern-day retelling of Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park. I very much enjoyed reading this retelling.

Here are some aspects I want to point out about the book:

  • Hearts Black and WhiteThe writing style is quite humorous, and there were moments when I laughed aloud! I like a good laugh!
  • Many common tropes appear, but the book is still satisfying overall. (See more about specific character tropes below.)
  • The author’s knowledge of costume/fashion design really shines through! Much of the clothing in this novel is described in a very detailed manner.
  • I also love the title of this book! The title is a reference to themes and objects throughout the book, and I think it ties things together nicely. It also contains a reference to a passage in Jane Eyre, which is not a Jane Austen novel, but is still super cool.
  • I really enjoyed reading Edie’s lexicon of words relating to her life. They enhance both the humor and character of the story.

‘Better to break a heart than to have your heart broken.’

-Jacqueline Firkins, Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things

Characters & Romance

The romance in this novel is adorable! Here is a brief overview of some of the characters and their romantic entanglements.

  • Edie Price has just moved to Mansfield to live with her rich cousins while she completes her high school education. She is the smart girl who lacks self-confidence and assertiveness. She has had a crush on the boy next door since childhood. She is good at storing bookish quotes in her memory. She is working hard to win scholarship money for college while also trying to repair a broken relationship with her BFF back home.
  • Sebastian is the boy next door. He is the creative type who wants to become a writer, but he is afraid to tell his parents that he doesn’t want to become a lawyer like his step-dad. He seems to enjoy books as much as Edie does, and it is adorable to see them exchange bookish quotes with each other!
  • Henry is the bad boy figure. He is quite the player and is a bit handsy, but always makes sure to ask for verbal consent first. Edie is determined not to fall for Henry, but she has difficulty resisting his charms. He serenades her with guitar ballads!
  • Claire is Sebastian’s gorgeous girlfriend. Yes. And she does NOT appreciate Edie’s interference in her relationship. She is also Henry’s sister.
  • Maria and Julia, Edie’s cousins, add quite a bit of character to the story. At times, they are hilarious! They often can’t stop bickering without Edie’s intervention. While Maria has an obsession with boys and fashion, Julia constantly consults beauty blogs when seeking dating advice.
  • One thing that did make me wonder is the age difference between Edie and Henry. Edie is 17, but Henry doesn’t seem to be in school or have any career goals. So, is he an adult? How old?
  • At one point, I was really annoyed with Sebastian, who couldn’t seem to choose between Edie and Claire. I wanted him to step up and CHOOSE!

‘Some people were simply tied to each other. Some knots never came unraveled. Some strings never broke.’

-Jacqueline Firkins, Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things

Final Thoughts

Here are a few other things I feel I should mention.

Although the writing style is humorous, sometimes it can also be a bit over-descriptive. By this, I am referring to the author’s tendency to include a long string of hyphenated adjectives before a noun. Here is one example: “… Edie had her first skin-tingling, breath-stealing, knee-weakening, heart-pounding, lip-burning, tongue-tangling, bone-decimating, chest-exploding, hair-gripping, brain-erasing, blood-bursting, … kiss.” In my opinion, that is quite a mouthful and too many adjectives for my brain to absorb simultaneously.

Another thing I noticed was how distant I felt from Shonda, Edie’s BFF back home. As readers, we are only truly introduced to her at the end of the novel. For most of the book, she is a faceless character who has been ignoring Edie as a result of a quarrel.

Overall, I liked how things ended, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to review this one! Today is the book’s release day, so it is now available for anyone to buy! See content warnings below if you want to be informed of those. Happy reading šŸ™‚

*Content Warnings: Some sexual content and a bit of innuendo; the f-word and s-word are both used several times.*

Up Next on My TBR: Nameless Queen (ARC)


Screen Shot 2019-12-17 at 10.35.31 PM

Spines that Shine

4 thoughts on “Hearts, Strings, and Other Breakable Things: A Cute, Modern Retelling of Jane Austen’s ‘Mansfield Park’”

  1. I’m happy to hear that you enjoyed this and it does sound like it had an interesting mix of characters to it. I have to agree that the sentence you shared was a bit of a mouthful too, I get that it was supposed to emphasize her feelings over a kiss but it does seem a bit much. Anyway hopefully I’ll get a chance to read this one day. And I’m looking forward to finding out what you think of Nameless Queen, I can’t wait for it to come out next month. I hope you enjoy it.

    Liked by 1 person

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