Stay with My Heart

Inkyard. Jan. 2024. 384p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781335010032.
Gr 9 Up–It’s the summer before college and 17-year-old Liana, who is Bangladeshi American, is splitting her time between working at her uncle’s LA record store and interning at the label where her father is an executive. She meets Thomas, a member of local band Third Eye, at a party and shares his music with her father, who has buried himself in work since the death of her mother. But when Thomas ghosts her, she learns he stole the band’s songs and used her to get to her father. Liana wants to help the group reclaim their music but can’t bring herself to tell them (or her father) what happened, so she takes on a management-style role and helps them prepare for a battle of the bands. Though wary of her input at first, the group soon adopts her as one of their own. The more time she spends with them, the more she finds that Skyler, who is Korean American and incredibly charming, makes her swoon. But her lies weigh on her, and things soon threaten to fall apart. Raw explorations of grief (Skyler also lost his mother), family expectations, and the neglect Liana feels from her father give depth and tension to the novel, which has a cute will-they-or-won’t-they romance full of rehearsal room hangouts and late-night drives set to themed playlists. The conclusion is realistic and hopeful, showing Liana, who lives with anxiety and depression, enrolled in therapy. Characters are well-drawn and diverse in racial and LGBTQIA+ identity.
VERDICT A sweet read with depth. Hand to readers who enjoy contemporary YA, boy bands, and books about girls who like music.

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