Precious Things by Stephanie Parent

Summary from Goodreads:

Isabelle Andrews isn’t supposed to be here. She isn’t supposed to be a freshman at Hartford Community College, she isn’t supposed to be living at home and working at her dad’s failing bakery, and she definitely isn’t supposed to be taking Intro to Electronic Music Production, a class that will get her nowhere toward her goal of an English Lit Ph.D. by age twenty-five. But when her dad’s latest business fiasco eats up her college fund, Hartford Community College is exactly where Isabelle finds herself—and thanks to her late enrollment, she doesn’t even get to choose her classes. Stuck with Electronic Music and way-too-easy English courses, Isabelle is determined to wallow in all the misery she feels entitled to.

But community college brings some unexpected benefits…like the fact that a certain overworked, over-scheduled Electronic Music professor hands over most of his duties to his teaching assistant. His tall, green-eyed, absolutely gorgeous teaching assistant. When TA Evan Strauss discovers Isabelle’s apathy toward electronic music—and, well, all music—he makes it his mission to convert her. The music Evan composes stirs something inside Isabelle, but she can’t get involved—after all, she’ll be transferring out as soon as possible. 

Still, no matter how tightly Isabelle holds on to her misery, she finds it slipping away in the wake of all Hartford Community offers: new friendships, a surprisingly cool poetry professor, and most of all, Evan. But Evan’s dream of owning his own music studio is as impractical as Isabelle’s dad’s bakery, and when Evan makes a terrible decision, everything Isabelle has gained threatens to unravel. Soon Isabelle discovers that some of the most important lessons take place outside the classroom…and that in life, as in Evan’s favorite Depeche Mode song, the most precious things can be the hardest to hold on to.

Link to Goodreads

Cover:

Precious Things

Review:

*I received an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This was a book I was so incredibly excited about. I had read Parent’s Forty Days and fell in love with her writing style. I was glad to read Precious Things and see that her style (although vastly different genres) was still apparent throughout.

When I first started Precious Things I couldn’t  help but think that Isabelle was slightly pretentious. However, as I continued I realized she was just a normal 18-year-old girl struggling with a huge let-down and really, a life of let-downs. Where I noticed some readers feeling hostility towards her, I felt empathy and tried to view her situation with an open mind. She continued to grow up and grow on me throughout the story.

As for Evan, he was great. I love that he’s not the prototypical NA male. His normalcy is refreshing. Now don’t get me wrong, Evan isn’t perfect, he has his flaws, but nothing too serious. He’s just a generally nice guy and although he respects Isabelle, he also stands up to her when the times arise.

I also really enjoyed the side characters, including Isabelle’s brother (Corey), dad, and new friend, Lucy. They all brought their own challenges into Isabelle’s life.  Her dad presents as one of the biggest challenges. After using her college fund to re-mortgage his small (and somewhat failing) bakery, Isabelle is forced to attend community college rather than the prestigious university she had always dreamed of. She feels resentment and anger towards her father but never feels that she can express it. Between her dad’s frivolity and her absent mother, Isabelle has built a wall around her emotions. Evan helps her to realize that it’s okay to express all of her emotions. I really loved Lucy. She was silly and funny. She even continued to try to be a friend to Isabelle despite Isabelle’s original icy demeanor towards her (and everyone else).

Precious Things is not your typical NA. There are no huge, potentially damaging secrets. It’s about two normal people trying to navigate and learn about the world and themselves. I enjoyed that it wasn’t about trying to uncover any big mystery but rather about Isabelle realizing and altering her perceptions of herself, others, and the world around her.

Overall, I would recommend this book to someone looking for a New Adult book with a different twist. In addition, I’d just recommend this author’s work, period, because she has a real craft for storytelling.

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