Book Review: The Astrid Notes by Taryn Bashford

Published in 2019 by Pan Australia, an imprint of Pan Macmillan.

Genre: Young Adult Contemporary

Price: $18.99

Page Count: 352

Release Date: 23rd July 2019

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Sypnosis from Pan Macmillan Australia:

Astrid Bell
Dutiful daughter. Classical singer. Secret pop songwriter. And suffering from stage fright.

Jacob Skalicky.
Trust-fund kid. Indie singer. Immensely gifted performer. And refusing to sing again.

Are they polar opposites? In his grief and fury at the world, Jacob certainly thinks so.

But when Jacob loses everything and Astrid uncovers a shocking family secret, they may need each other to make sense of their lives.

My Review:

I recieved a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review- all thoughts are my own.

This book opened with such an impactful and emotional start! I was immediately heartbroken for both our main characters – Jacob, who tragically loses his bandmates after they go on a heavy night out, celebrating their music, and Jacob would have been with them if it weren’t for his Father insisting he visit his Aunt rather than go out drinking with his best friends and bandmates.

Then we have Astrid, who we learn has been groomed to sing, which she loves, but also to follow in the footsteps of her deceased Mother, who was a celebrated noted soprano. I really admired Astrid’s character, she’s so strong and loving! She doesn’t at once flinch from her father’s almost cruel behaviour towards her (in the instance where he practically has her living a caged lifestyle, not letting her do anything that may ruin her perfect voice!). I found these scenes quite hard to read sometimes, purely because I felt like I could feel how uncomfortable Astrid felt, how anxious the notion of performing on stage can make her, to the extent where she clearly doesn’t feel at all well and vomits- but she feels such a pressure not to devastate her Father by giving up, she knows how much he is believing in her to be such a noted soprano, Astrid thinks it’s all that’s keeping him going after losing his beloved wife and daughter Savannah, Astrid’s sister who she always misses. I love how both Astrid and Jacob were dealing with such intense, personal grief and bonded over a love of music, and just how they were able to face their grief together! I absolutely adored their friendship and how it developed, so it was wonderful seeing it bloom into something more too!

I feel like Astrid helped Jacob rediscover his love for music, which was just so beautiful! After burying his friends, which was so heartbreaking, he didn’t think he’d sing again – he felt it was cruel that he got to live on whilst his bandmates didn’t – which brings me to say that how Taryn Bashford depicted Jacob’s darkest emotions just felt so raw! I couldn’t help but feel so devastated for him! It was so heart wrenching when he was trying to hurt himself too, whether it was indulging in some heavy binge drinking proceeded by surfing (never a safe combination), or just deep in the pits of despair with his own thoughts! I loved though how he was so encouraging to Astrid about her song writing, and how he could see that she writes such amazing songs, even though her Father, The Maestro, would object against it – or, frankly, anything that would seemingly distract Astrid from opera. In turn, I love how Astrid and The Maestro helped Jacob see his passion for singing on stage become alive once more! I always feel like music is something to celebrate, no matter the style, so it was phenomenal to see Astrid and Jacob bloom on stage and overcome everything they’d gone through, separately and collectively!

The relationship between Astrid and The Maestro (her Father) is quite an intricate and complex one, but brilliantly portrayed, I thought. I just wanted to hug Astrid when she felt she was being suffocated by him, although I do think he did love her earnestly and think he was really good to her and a genuinely loving Father (especially as the story goes along and we learn more about Astrid’s Mother and how she might not have well been the perfect Mother that Astrid and her sister thought she was), but I still wish that The Maestro would have been more lenient towards Astrid and have her sing on her own terms, rather than forcing her to sing when she was ill with nerves!

I love how Astrid kept writing her own songs too, and how she and Jacob and a wonderful character called Dex worked together to bring these songs to life! Dex and Jacob had such a precious bond! I love how Dex helped Jacob after the latter was mourning so much, how Jacob was feeling more alive for helping Dex find his voice too, I love how Astrid allowed him to sing her songs and oh, it was just such a delightful partnership between them all!

I cannot recommend this book enough! It’s just got so much heart and soul poured into it, and coupled with the theme of music throughout and self discovery and not giving in or up, this makes for wholly remarkable and memorable reading!

Happy Reading,

Brooklyn.

About the Author (from Pan Macmillan):
Taryn is the author of The Harper Effect and currently lives on the Sunshine Coast with a family that includes teen children and a highly-strung dog. Taryn’s lived on four continents, meaning her job experience has been varied: an advertising sales rep, a ski chalet chef, a late-night newsreader and the CEO of an internet company, but writing and Australia are her true loves. Taryn is currently working on her PhD in Creative
Writing while tutoring undergraduates and writing more novels. When she’s not writing or teaching, she’s training for triathlons in the hope they will compensate for the fact she spends ten hours a day sitting on her tushie.

Add The Astrid Notes to your Goodreads TBR:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45712592-the-astrid-notes

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