Genre: New Adult Romance
Author: Stephanie Parent
Publication Date: June 5th 2013
Source: Provided by author for review
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.
Precious Things was one of those books where I felt completely in tune with the main character. Isabelle is a young girl who had big dreams of going to college and getting a degree in something she loved. Unfortunately her family situation has kept her from doing that and left her floundering to figure out what to do now.
When Isabelle's father had to spend her college fund to save the family business she was forced to go to a local community college. I could relate to this story having to change my dreams to fit my personal circumstances. Isabelle was a character I found a lot of myself in especially her anger towards her father at being the reason she ended up not going to a big college to follow her dreams. She takes several important classes in hopes of getting financial assistance to a bigger school after the semester. She is also forced to take an electronic music class that she feels isn't necessary to her academic record.
At first you feel like Isabelle is a little whiny and she does have a tendency to be a bit standoffish but once you find out her mother left her family and she had to be the one to take over that role you understand her better. She wants a better life for herself than what she has been dealt but life seems to hand her different cards with every turn. She second guesses herself a lot and tends to get wrapped up in what she can't do and let's that stop her from tackling certain things. Having to constantly worry about her father who dealt with problems by immersing himself in work and her brother who becomes closed off and secretive stresses her out even more than her academic troubles. I felt bad for her being the oldest and having to basically take care of her family by herself and that's where I could relate to her character the most. Her obvious displeasure at having to go to a community college slowly fades the more she goes to class and starts making friends. When she starts spending time with Evan Strauss, the Teaching Assistant from her electronic music class she discovers things about herself she might not have, had she gone to a big college. I loved watching Isabelle open up and relax the more time she spent with Evan. He brought out a more fun side to her and helped her stop being so serious all the time.
Speaking of Evan, Holy. Shit. Did I love him? Um... does a bear shit in the woods? The answer is yes! Evan was absolutely amazing. He comes across as aloof and a little mysterious but when he finally warms up to Isabelle and they spend time together you find out he is this amazingly charming and sexy guy. Isabelle wasn't the easiest person to deal with at times but Evan handled her attitude and mood swings so well. Peeling back the layers of Evan you find that he has his own set of crappy circumstances that has held him back and in turn made him the perfect match for Isabelle. Any man who takes care of his mother is beyond sexy in my book but the sexiest thing about him was how he nurtured and believed in Isabelle. He encouraged her to pursue whatever made her happy and stood behind her. He didn't let her chase him away like most guys would have. He dug deeper than her surface intensity and found out who she was inside. Now don't get me wrong he wasn't just this sweet poetic guy with no sex appeal, oh no. Evan Strauss was hot and apparently knows how to rock a pair of tits like a pro. There were some steamy moments between these two but it didn't push too far over the boundary like some New Adult books go and I liked it. Sometimes less is more as my friend Birdie would say.
the secondary characters played a big role in Isabelle's development also. Lucy is one of the first people to befriend her despite the fact that she tries to avoid making friends. Their friendship comes at a time where Isabelle needs another girl to connect with and share her feelings with. Lucy was loud and carefree and showed Isabelle it was OK to not always be in control. When Shawn comes into the picture with his messy circumstances also she starts to see that making the best of what you are given doesn't have to be as hard as she first makes it out for herself. Shawn was dealing with caring for a two year old and a live in girlfriend but still managed to go to school and have a life outside. Each character showed Isabelle something different about herself and I thought the author did a great job with that aspect.
Overall the story was well written and I loved the mention of several different stories and the parallels to Isabelle's life. The inclusion of song lyrics and poetry was one of my favorite parts of this book especially when Isabelle comes up with her own song that was really deep and meaningful. Precious Things was the first time I have read anything from this author and as much as I enjoyed this one I know I will read more from her in the future.
"The problem with being ambitious - if you'll excuse the cliche - is that sometimes you end up looking so far ahead, you can't see what's right in front of you." eARC 36%
"So what if your life's not some epic tragedy? The ordinary people, and the ordinary tragedies...we matter too." eARC 75%
About The Author:Stephanie Parent is a graduate of the Master of Professional Writing program at USC and attended the Baltimore School for the Arts as a piano major. She moved to Los Angeles because of Francesca Lia Block's WEETZIE BAT books, which might give you some idea of how much books mean to her. She also loves dogs, books about dogs, and sugary coffee drinks both hot and cold.