Heartstrings – Rachel Spangler

At thirty-six, Mira Collins is a successful financial planner. She likes schedules and rules and predictability. Her sister Vannah knocking on her door one evening and announcing that she needs to travel to the other side of the world and will leave Ben, her eleven-year-old son, with Mira is the opposite of schedules and rules and predictability. To her credit, Vannah has tried to make things as easy as possible for everyone, including finding a teacher for Ben’s violin lessons. Shelby Tanner is a twenty-five-year-old orchestra teacher, full of ideas, kind and energetic and passionate, doing her best to enjoy life to the fullest while acting as a stable adult. The perfect counterpart to Mira.

This is the cutest book I’ve read in a while. I love Shelby and Mira, I love how different they are, how much potential they have in balancing each other, and their willingness to work on making their differences – age, career, way of seeing the world – enrich their relationship rather than burden it. I also love Ben. I’m often wary of too-smart kids in books but Spangler hit the right balance in the extraordinary child department. Ben is a child, a gifted one but a child first and foremost. The focus on his love for music is a bit heavy-handed but the story isn’t about him anyway, even if he’s closer to being a main character than a secondary one.

Shelby’s family sounds lovely and I would have loved to see them on the page a bit more. Her mom won extra points for saying “food is love”. The bickering between Shelby and her nerdy older brother Darrin is full of love and support. Mira’s relationship with her sister Vannah couldn’t be more different. Vannah is everything Mira doesn’t want to be, everything she fights. As the story evolves, though, Vannah’s life philosophy proves to be a lot deeper and healthier than it seems.

I loved almost everything about this story. My main issue is that it takes place over a rather short period of time and the level of commitment Shelby expects from Mira sounds slightly over the top. I do, however, love that she voices her concerns and hopes, states her wants and needs. Mira would rather think things through before talking about them, and as an introvert I get her, but for a relationship to work, both parties’ needs have to be taken into account.

Character growth is at the heart of this sweet rom-com, perfect for the summer (or to warm your heart if it’s winter where you are).


Heartstrings @ Bookshop.org / IndieBound / amazon

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