(Cover picture courtesy of NetGalley.)
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?
[Full disclosure: I received an ARC ebook through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.]
I have some mixed feelings about this book. On one hand, the premise is amazing and the descriptions Lynn Maddalena Menna writes are beautiful. On the other hand, the writing felt rushed as Marisol just all of a sudden got discovered and there were times I wanted to slap her for being so cocky.
Marisol is not a perfect character and I can usually deal with that just fine. She’s gorgeous? Okay, fine. She’s a good singer? That’s okay too. But does she have to be perfect at almost everything? All of a sudden, out of absolutely nowhere she writes her own song or inadvertently avoids a disastrous situation by nothing but pure chance (AKA author intervention). Marisol can be a bit shallow at times, but it seems like it’s a product of how she was brought up as well as confidence about her talent. However, it can get tiresome when she constantly fights with her friends over putting her career first. And by the end, it does seem like she’s learned her lesson but it was definitely a painful process and overall she doesn’t feel more mature.
The plot was amazingly fast paced, which I loved. What I didn’t like was how Menna transitioned from scene to scene. Whenever the characters had to travel, it was like they’d magically pop there without any clues for the reader to understand they’d hopped on a train or walked. They were just suddenly at their destination. Or, when it seemed like things were slowing down, some new drama would just pop up out of nowhere that was not really relevant to the plot. Despite this, I’m actually quite fond of her writing style overall. Aside from scene transitions, the amount of description and dialogue was balanced perfectly and the plot did move along quite nicely.
There were some unexpected plot twists and there were some important messages about self-esteem and how sick the entertainment industry can be, but on the whole Piece of My Heart was okay. It isn’t great, but neither is it bad; it falls somewhere in the middle. Despite some hiccups, it’s a strangely addictive story, possibly because of the premise and how it was generally executed well. What I’m trying to say is that it’s light reading for the most part: it’s really good until you think deeply about it. And for some people, that’s perfectly fine. I just think Lynn Maddalena Menna missed an opportunity to really send out a great message to readers. Still, there is so much potential here that yes, I will be checking out her future books. I’m sure she is one of those writers that will improve with more experience.
I give this book 3/5 stars.