The Heart Principle: A Story From The Heart

The Heart Principle Review

Helen Hoang’s latest novel is a story straight from the heart. It is half unintentional memoir and of course all romance novel. It is a poignant and sometimes heart-wrenching look at neurodiversity. 

Unlike Hoang’s other two novels this story is written in the first person. This is an intentional change she had to make to be able to tell Anna’s story authentically. This is because many aspects of it are moments and emotions she has drawn straight from her own life.  

Anna is a famous violinist plagued by a creative block so severe that she can never finish a song. As her career is faltering her long-term boyfriend also decides he wants an open relationship, so they can have fun before settling down with each other.  

Anna decides to step outside her comfort zone and have a one-night stand. She chooses Quan, who with his tattoos and bad boy look seems like the perfect fleeting hookup. Sparks fly from their first meeting and they fall headlong into a surprising relationship.  Anna is also forced to confront who she really is and may just have been given the answers to understanding herself.  

This story is so much more than a romance novel. Sure, there’s a reformed bad boy who falls madly in love with the heroine and steamy sex scenes, but it’s also an unflinching look at neurodiversity and the mental health struggles that can come with ignorance.  

Anna has struggled all her life to be normal. Her family, who she loves and idolises has always forced her to be normal. The problem is she’s not and her mental health is beginning to crack under the pressure of being someone she isn’t.  

Enter Quan, a reformed bad boy with a heart of gold and the guy who is supposed to be Anna’s one-night stand. Hoang uses this meeting of strangers as a reason for Anna to finally start being herself, something she is too terrified to do.  

This eventually leads to her therapist suggesting that Anna looks into the Autism spectrum. This part of the story is heart-wrenching but uplifting. You can feel the authenticity and the release that Hoang must have felt herself when she finally discovered why she felt so different.  

Even with this life-changing discovery, Anna is still not able to become her true self as her family is dismissive of her diagnosis. It eventually spirals out of control to a heartbreaking breaking point.  

The romance between Quan and Emily is the bright point and the lighter note to keep this story within the realms of the romance genre. Their relationship is sweet, and life-changing for the main characters. Maybe Quan is almost too perfect, but that’s my only complaint.  

Summary

Knowing this story is based on Hoang’s own experiences makes the emotions and problems intense and raw. The conclusion is not the perfect happy ending we’re all used to in romance. Hoang takes reminds her readers that life is usually not perfect and mental health is never something that is finished neatly. The Heart Principle is a romance novel with a poignant message.

— Bliss
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