by Melanie Bell
GENRE: Young Adult LGBTQ+
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.
GUEST POST by Melanie Bell
Have you ever fallen in love with a piece of music? Or maybe an instrument?
I remember being in elementary school and listening to the high school band put on a concert. A wall of sound surrounded me. Drumbeats pounded through the floor. Even hearing a piece like the Star Wars theme song felt like being in the middle of a waterfall.
Music was magic. In first grade, I daydreamed about becoming a composer someday and writing musicals. That hasn’t happened (though I’m not dead yet!)
Music is a marker of time. Literally speaking, music takes time, and is created by counting. For me, music also marked the years while I grew up.
Each spring, there was a local music festival. I often competed in it, singing solos. When junior high and high school came around, I played in bands, and we went on annual band trips.
I was amazed by kids who seemed able to just pick up an instrument and play it. My talents were in academics and writing, but don’t we always wish for the abilities other people have?
Whenever I met a musical prodigy, I was curious to learn their story. These personal anecdotes, along with my own love of music, inspired my YA novel Chasing Harmony.
Coaxing sound out of a finely tuned object. Self-teaching beyond one’s spot in the music book. Listening so intently that the world falls away.
It’s a bit like romance. A bit like having a crush. Sometimes you love what you hear so dearly that you feel sad it doesn’t notice you in the same way. It’s always the stronger force in the relationship. But it always gives something back.
Chasing Harmony expresses all these feelings. I hope you fall in love with it, too.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
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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Where to purchase Chasing Harmony (print)
Where to purchase Chasing Harmony (digital)
GIVEAWAY INFORMATION and RAFFLECOPTER CODE
Melanie Bell will award a $20 Barnes and Noble gift card to a randomly drawn winner.
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