A refreshing YA debut from Canadian author Melanie Bell, perfect for fans of Rainbow Rowell, Becky Albertalli, and Nina LaCour.
Melanie Bell has created a compelling coming-of-age story, featuring a bisexual protagonist, for those that can relate to the search for untapped potential. Told in alternating timelines on Prince Edward Island and Vancouver, Chasing Harmony reminds us of the exhilarating feeling that comes with hearing your heart’s song.
Piano prodigy Anna Stern is used to having all eyes on her. As she becomes a teenager, Anna struggles to find her identity without the soundtrack of sonatas and concertos. There’s also the worry that comes with the crushing expectations of her musical gift and her parents’ imploding marriage.
Anna finds refuge in her best friend, Liss, who is full of magic and escape plans. However, now their relationship is changing and Anna is starting to fall for her. Adding to the complicated status is new kid Darien, who is always vying for Anna's attention.
As the haunting spectre of burnout lurks close by, an upcoming performance with Liss will determine both of their futures. With everything building to a crescendo, what follows is an authentic life in the making.
She blows out the flame, crushes the poster into a ball as bits of ash flake off. She can’t let them catch this.
Another voice: “I swear I didn’t burn anything!”
She grabs the stack of old band posters from the file shelf and stuffs them in her bag. No one else working at The Green Staircase cares about these posters. It was Anna’s idea to keep them.
“Maybe it’s the radiator.”
All those bands, her pride and joy. Who was she kidding?
“I think it’s coming from over there—”
Quick! Into the alley, garbage bins reeking. What bin should burnt paper go in—recycling? Compost? She tosses and runs wildly down the street. Her shift is over. She’s done her job.
Out of habit, she stops at the community center on the corner. It’s late Friday evening, still open, no floor hockey games or beading club for underprivileged youth. No one at the pool tables or arcade.
She rushes to the piano.
No one is there to clap as she launches into the band’s last number, a tender little piece sung by Mustache Man whose burnt face now graces a compost bin. She hasn’t played it before, but that isn’t a problem. Her fingers relish the slick feel of keys, the quick acrobatics of motion. She riffs on the melody, improvises, and adds a solo section. For those lyrics she remembers, she sings along, not powerfully but perfectly in key.
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Why Writing is a Form of Personal Therapy
Mad? Sad? Mired in the slough of despond? You could wallow in those emotions, feeling progressively worse and worse. Or you could take out your notebook (or laptop).
Maybe you want to vent. Writing’s a great place to do it! I usually find that negative emotions become less intense after going on about them in my journal. Sometimes I even find myself laughing as my thoughts repeat themselves, becoming absurd.
Fiction is another fantastic laboratory for dealing with feelings. Maybe you can recreate that person who’s driving you up the wall in a murder mystery – and then kill them off. Or you can build a magical world where your dreams for yourself come true for your character, whether that’s marrying a billionaire or gaining superpowers.
Therapy can be expensive. Writing usually isn’t. If you have time, you can write for long periods – sustaining focus for longer and diving deeper than therapeutic appointments. You can also write in snatches of time squeezed around other commitments. You can write at many different times, in many different places. (Have you tried writing on your phone?) And you can find new insights each time.
Writing has been one of my best tools for gaining perspective on myself. I’ve discovered that the themes that draw me over and over again are worth exploring in my personal life. I like telling different kinds of stories, but when one meta-story repeats itself, it’s usually mine.
Writing tells me what I like, what I wish, what I’m scared of. It can tell you these things, too.
Melanie Bell is a Canadian multi-genre writer living in the UK. Her books include a short story collection,Dream Signs, a nonfiction title, The Modern Enneagram, and the YA novel Chasing Harmony. She has written for several publications including Contrary, Cicada, The Fiddlehead, and Huffington Post. She loves music, art, and nature, and aspires to see as much of the world as she can.
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