Book Review: The Secret of a Heart Note

The Secret of a Heart Note
By: Stacey Lee
Published by: Katherine Tegen Books
Release date: December 27, 2016
Genre: YA speculative
384 pages
Source: Galley kindly provided by publisher

I labeled this book "YA speculative" because it's mainly a contemporary, but there is a little fantasy element thrown in- and it works. Mim is a young aromateur: for generations, the women in her family have had an exceptional sense of smell. They raise and/or gather, harvest, and extract oils from plants, mainly for the purpose of helping people to fall in love.

Mim as a main character is a great representative of the coming-of-age story. She has grown up mostly isolated with her mother in their garden, with only one friend. She helps her mother with their work, and has little time to cultivate any relationships outside of her mom and her best friend, Kali. She's seen much of the world on business trips with her mother, but has little experience with other people her own age in her own town. Until, at the opening of the story, her mother allows her to finally enroll in public school.

The lines between school and work soon blur for Mim; she's involved in match-making activities initiated by her math teacher, where the target is the school librarian. From there she accidentally makes a mess of things, and is bound by honor and the aromateur's code to make things right, despite the complications of her own heart that she encounters along the way.

The love interest in the book is as sweet as it is typical of the teen experience. Mim falls for the cute star athlete, and doesn't believe that he could genuinely be interested in her. It is just the way most teen girls feel: she's inferior in every way, and despite that, she wins the affection of Prince Charming. Our teen daughters will eat it up.

I love this stand alone, and will be recommending it- as well as looking for more titles by this author.

An evocative novel about a teen aroma expert who uses her extrasensitive sense of smell to mix perfumes that help others fall in love while protecting her own heart at all costs

Sometimes love is right under your nose. As one of only two aromateurs left on the planet, sixteen-year-old Mimosa knows what her future holds: a lifetime of weeding, mixing love elixirs, and matchmaking—all while remaining incurably alone. For Mim, the rules are clear: falling in love would render her nose useless, taking away her one great talent. Still, Mimosa doesn’t want to spend her life elbow-deep in soil and begonias. She dreams of a normal high school experience with friends, sports practices, debate club, and even a boyfriend. But when she accidentally gives an elixir to the wrong woman and has to rely on the lovesick woman’s son, the school soccer star, to help fix the situation, Mim quickly begins to realize that falling in love isn’t always a choice you can make.

At once hopeful, funny, and romantic, Stacey Lee’s The Secret of a Heart Note is a richly evocative coming-of-age story that gives a fresh perspective on falling in love and finding one’s place in the world.