The Secret of a Heart Note
Mim (short for Mimosa) has a problem. Her mother expects her to be as gifted as their famous ancestor, Narcissa, but her will wants something else --- something more than the lonely life they lead. She wants to go to school, to learn algebra and to have friends (and maybe even a boyfriend), but as one of the last two aromateurs left, they have a responsibility with the world. Aromateurs have the gift of picking out even the faintest of smells on anything. Their specialties? People and plants Mimosa and her mom have to use their incredible noses to help those who are love sick, the poor souls who need help finding love. Using a person’s individual mix of scents and heart notes, they can concoct powerful elixirs to help those who are worthy. The only problem is that the aromateurs themselves can't fall in love. If you find yourself smelling like blueberries (heartache), or feel your stomach somersault then say goodbye to your sense of smell. Mim can’t afford to make a mistake in this business, but is falling in love really considered a mistake? The more time she spends with a local soccer star, the more she finds herself wishing she could have the best of both worlds.
"Lee has proven...that not every heroine needs to be fighting a national revolution to be in battle and not every problem involves an evil maniac. Sometimes the best stories are character v. self...."
As the book progressed I found myself alternating between blanking out and being completely captivated. Staying true to her list of strong main female characters, Stacey Lee has managed to create a persona that is determined to reach her goal, even with bumps along the road. In this case, the bumps just so happened to include a powerful elixir used on the wrong person, the possibility of losing her power to smell (her life’s work), and a soccer star who is way too interested in her for both of their sakes. At other moments, I found myself realizing that I missed something and had to reread the last two pages or so. My biggest complaint is that in these instances, the page or paragraph had to be reread about two to four times in order for me to pay attention and grasp the content. It was somewhat disappointing when excitement was in the air and suddenly it plummeted down to nearly the deepest roots. However, overall I experienced a reluctance to put the book down. Even though one can predict the events to come (if one has read enough YA romances), it sure was fun to find out how. There were many theories floating around my head (most of them far-fetched) but the events did not disappoint me even when most of my predictions were wrong.
Setting aside the fictional plot that may not be relatable unless you are the second to last aromateur on Earth, the core of the book deals with family relationships, friendly relationships and, of course, romantic relationships. Even though not everybody could agree that having a superb sense of smell is tedious (but still a privilege), everybody can relate to most of the problems being dealt with. Lee did not create a story of somebody fighting off beasts to stay with their half-creature half-human forbidden lover, but that did not stop her from creating powerful moments and sentiments. Many people have been torn between what a guardian would like for and from them and what one wants for and from themselves, especially when you realize what they want really might be the best for you.
If you love books where there is a feeling of denial (feelings-wise), serious chemistry between two characters, abrupt twists, or an overall intelligent and strong heroine, then Stacey Lee’s latest work is definitely for you. Lee has proven (not just in THE SECRET OF A HEART NOTE but her other works as well) that not every heroine needs to be fighting a national revolution to be in battle and not every problem involves an evil maniac. Sometimes the best stories are character v. self, especially when refusing to let go of ideas that are supposed to be set in stone.
Reviewed by Flor H., Teen Board Member on January 11, 2017