This book hits right in the heart! I’ve been not-so-patiently awaiting The Heart Principle for literally years…and finally got my hands on it. It was well done and written with love.
Anna is a violinist stuck in a loop. After a viral video made her music famous, she can’t seem to make it through a full song without thoughts of what others think just crowding in. After her boyfriend asks for an open relationship, she decides it’s time to make some changes, and seeks a new relationship and some revelations of her own.
Quan survived a diagnosis that left him feeling less than whole, and it’s ruined his carefree lifestyle and relationship style – until now. Looking for one night to get him back on the horse, he finds Anna, and falls head over heels for this woman.
When tragedy strikes Anna’s family, and she comes face to face with a diagnosis of her own, things become too much, and it threatens the one good thing Anna and Quan always have: each other.
I’ve got to say right off, I didn’t love this book as much as I’ve loved Hoang’s other novels, and I actually feel bad about it. The Heart Principle feels kind of like a cross between a romance and a contemporary/literary fiction novel. There’s a lot of focus on the story, the character development, and relationships outside of the romantic relationship, that are more present in literary fiction. However, this book also follows the arc of a romance novel. I’m not dissatisfied, certainly, but if you’re reading this review and seeing four stars like it’s a four star romance, I don’t mean it in that way. It’s a four star book overall.
This book focuses heavily on mental health and caregiving. I don’t want to spoil any big details, but it’s split up into three parts revolving around a major health event, and then the caregiving that comes after. These parts felt the most meaningful to me: as much as I love any Hoang romance, the author’s interaction with the story during these parts definitely had a deeper quality to it, and for good reason. After reading the book, I was met with the author’s note, which explains that Hoang wrote the story over the three years she was acting as a caregiver for her mother. These parts of the story are raw and real because they’re based in reality for her, and I definitely felt that as the reader.
The romance portion is where my star is lost. I think it’s really nicely done, and I think Anna and Quan’s support for one another even in the hardest of times is emotionally heartwarming and sweet. However, it doesn’t live up to the standards of her previous books in this sense. Don’t read it expecting it to be the main event…but certainly read it. I still very much recommend this book, but be aware that it is far heavier than any of her others, and take care of yourself while reading.
A copy of The Heart Principle was provided to me by the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. It will be available August 31, 2021.