Heartsinger by Karlijn Stoffels

Steeped in traditional fairy tales, this book offers a framing story and then a series of smaller stories that illuminate the many forms of that love can take.  A boy whose parents are deaf and dumb, becomes a gifted singer who can reveal a person’s life in his own mysterious language.  A girl whose parents fight and curse nearly all the time, plays music that has everyone dancing and feeling merry.  The two are destined to be together.  As they slowly journey toward one another, readers get to see a princess who looks only into the mirror, a sailor’s sweetheart who loves the sea she sees in her husband, and a fluting soldier who saves everyone he can.

Repetition, lilting phrases, and classic fairy tale characters keep this book closely tied to its tradition.  Readers will immediately recognize the type of book they are reading, but will be amazed at the lyrical prose, the lack of sentimentality, and the power of this small book.  Love here is seen not in saccharine sweetness, but in reality, sometimes obsessive, strangely brutal, and always powerful. 

This book is a box of chocolates with hidden depths of spices and heat that surprise and delight.  Highly recommended for teens who want a bit of classic tale and truth in their romance.  Appropriate for ages 13-17.

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