This is the kind of love story I want to read. ‘The Heart Principle’ by Helen Hoang was so-so good. I can’t stress that enough. It was believable. It wasn’t over-the-top. I don’t particularly enjoy love stories but if they were all like this one, I would devour them and become a sucker for romance novels.
‘The Heart Principle’ is the final book in the three-book series by Hoang, the first two being ‘The Kiss Quotient’ and ‘The Bride Test’. You don’t have to read the books in chronological order. The stories aren’t connected. I haven’t read them but I have heard that they too are good. But those who have gone through all three keep saying that ‘The Heart Principle’ is the best.
Anna Sun is a violinist who shoots to fame when a YouTube video of her performing on stage goes viral. But she has since been replaced by a 12-year-old prodigy and is struggling to make music. Nothing she comes up with seems to be good enough. Then her boyfriend, Julian, suggests they open up their relationship. He wants to be sure she is the person he is meant to be with.
When Julian says he knows Anna won’t date anyone, she becomes determined to prove him wrong. Enter Quan, who has just recovered from an illness and is looking to get back on the dating scene. The two connect through a dating app and hit it off right from the start. But Anna’s family doesn’t approve of Quan. She has also not broken up with Julian, who her mother and sister absolutely adore. Anna isn’t the type who can assert herself, say no when she wants to. It doesn’t help that she has recently been diagnosed as autistic but her sister thinks it’s just an excuse for her ‘poor’ behavior.
Hoang writes with a lot of empathy for her characters. You find yourself mentally defending even difficult characters like Pricilla, Anna’s elder sister, who tries to dictate how other people act and live and generally comes off as annoying. You see she’s driven by her desire for what she assumes is good for her family. Her intentions are right, even though that may not be obvious. There’s a lot to unpack in The Heart Principle. The book deals with trauma, grief, family pressure, and the need to conform among other things. It’s a really wholesome love story.