Saturday, August 17, 2013

Review: Piece of My Heart by Lynn Madelenna Menna


Title: Piece of My Heart
Author: Lynn Madelenna Menna

Genre: YA Contemporary Fiction
Publisher: Merit Press

Length: 239 pages
Original Publishing Date: June 18th, 2013
Series: Standalone
Where I got it: NetGalley

Links: Goodreads Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads:
 

"Still in high school, Marisol Reyes gets the chance of a lifetime to be a real singer, and she leaps at it. After all, this is the dream she held on to, all the days and nights she spent growing up on means streets of East Harlem. Marisol never gave in--no matter what her boyfriend or her best friend had to say. Who cares if only one in a hundred pretty, talented girls make it? She will be the one. In her rush to fame, Marisol tramples on the heart of her loyal best friend, and Julian, the boy she loves. But will it be worth it?

One night at a private gig in the Hamptons, the little Latino girl with the big voice from East Harlem gets a severe reality check. A famous rapper who claims to be interested in her talents turns out to be interested in something else, threatening not only Marisol's dreams but her body and soul. Will the realities of the gritty New York music scene put out the stars in Marisol's eyes forever?
"

 
Main characters: 3/5

Marisol (and her alter ego Singer Girl) had this great sass, but sometimes it almost became arrogance. We are also told about Marisol's magical transformation into Singer Girl that happened before the book started, but I feel like we would've seen a larger range of character growth if the reader had seen that change happen. Marisol had a good balance of naivety and street-smarts, but there were a couple moments where I just shook my head. Marisol's struggles with her friends over her emerging singing career seemed realistic although I might not have liked Marisol's ideas about why her friends were upset that she was spending so much time on her singing career. The negatives were that Marisol's growth as a character was minimal and she was forgettable.

Secondary characters: 1.5/5

One of my knocks on the entire cast of secondary characters were that they were fairly flat, one-dimensional, and easy to forget. I liked that Marisol went back and forth on what to think about Diego and that he wasn't the perfect childhood crush like she expected him to be. Tatianna and Vanessa each had things about them that I didn't like, in fact they were polar opposites. I ended up not liking either character and they were unmemorable at the end. Marisol's stepmother Lola was unique because of the family situation that made her Marisol's only guardian. I liked the tension between them still trying to work out how to be a family and I ultimately enjoyed Lola's character. Julian was a curious romantic interest. I really didn't like him or connect with him and I ultimately didn't understand why he and Marisol kept coming back to each other.

Writing style: 3/5

The writing style was quick-paced and easy to read. Menna really constructed the world of the music industry and New York City well. There were some big jumps in the timeline of the novel, such as between chapters 1 and 2. I don't mind skipping over some of the unimportant parts, but better transitions would have helped this problem.

Plot: 3/5
I loved the premise of following Marisol's journey to singing fame. The action was realistic and seemed to address the issues that come with trying to acquire a music deal. While I haven't personally encountered a lot of things that Marisol went through, I could 100% believe that they were real, both from hearing about the music industry and from the realistic descriptions that Menna included.  I couldn't decide if I liked the fact that some of the celebrities were thinly veiled versions of real singers and music artists (e.g. Taylor Fox as Taylor Swift). My negatives were that the major conflict got a little lost. It felt like we were following Marisol through a summer of learning about herself and therefore the plot had a bit of a wandering feel. In some cases this was good and in others I would have preferred a typical plot structure.

Ending: 2.5/5

While the finale was surprising and exciting, the way that Menna wrapped up the action was a let down. Marisol explains the lessons she's learned that summer about friends, ambition and love. I don't think this was necessary: the writing should do the job and explain what Marisol has learned rather than having the main character list out the lessons like she's in middle school.

Best scene: When Marisol sings at her birthday party


Reminded Me Of: Adios To My Old Life by Caridad Ferrer

Positives: Gritty descriptions of the music industry, a sassy and fun main character, quick moving and easy to read writing style


Negatives: A mostly forgettable story, flat secondary cast, lack of big plot action through most of the story, the writing style at the end

Cover: I'm not really a fan of this cover. I like the idea, but the font is not my thing and the image looks a little fake


Verdict: An entertaining read about the music industry with no real depth


Rating: 5.2/10 (3 stars)


Your Thoughts: Have you read it? What did you think? If you haven't, will you be adding it to your TBR list? Let me know!

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