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Literature / Harmonic Feedback

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Harmonic Feedback is a 2010 young adult novel by Tara Kelly.

Drea Horvath, a music- and sound design-obsessed sixteen-year-old with Asperger's, has spent most of her life moving around the country with her mother. Now they're moving in with her grandmother in Bellingham, Washington. Drea hasn't had a real friend since fourth grade, but here she connects with two other teens, Naomi Quinn and Justin Rocca, and the three of them end up forming a band.

Harmonic Feedback contains examples of:

  • Abandoned Area: After Naomi runs away, she and Scott hole up in a boarded-up Victorian-style house. By the time Drea, Justin, Roger, and Kari find them, Naomi has overdosed on meth.
  • "Be Quiet!" Nudge: At a restaurant, Drea's grandma is rude to a waitress, and her mom mouths "Alzheimer's." When Drea says, "She doesn't have Alzheimer's," her mom kicks her under the table hard enough to send an ache up her leg.
  • The Bro Code: Female example. Kari and Naomi used to be best friends, but Kari now hates Naomi because Naomi hooked up with what she thought was Kari's ex. Kari has no interest in that boy anymore, but she still wants to get revenge on Naomi for "breaking the girl code."
  • Career-Ending Injury: Naomi's dad used to work in construction until he fell and injured his back. With no way of getting another job, he took to drinking and started neglecting his kids.
  • Cry into Chest: Kari cries into Naomi's chest when the protagonists find Naomi overdosed on meth.
  • Cut Himself Shaving: Justin gets into a fistfight with Naomi's douchey boyfriend Scott, giving him a bloody nose. When a neighbor calls the police, Scott tells him he tripped and smacked his nose on the coffee table playing Wii.
  • Death March: Drea's grandma tells her that her older brother Paul died in the Bataan Death March at age 18. He paused to help someone who had fallen and was shot for it.
  • Disappeared Dad: Drea never knew her dad, and her mom doesn't talk about him much.
  • Disneyland Dad: Naomi's mom lives in California with her husband and two perfect kids. Naomi and her brother Greg used to like visiting her because she would usually just give them money and dump them at Disneyland for the day.
  • Domestic Abuse: Scott is beating up Naomi.
  • Exhausted Eye Bags: Drea's mom has shadows under her eyes at one point, and Drea wonders if she slept at all.
  • First Kiss: To Drea's surprise and discomfort, Naomi kisses her in the rain because she wants to see what a lesbian kiss feels like. Drea later has her first "proper" kiss with Justin.
  • Five-Finger Discount: Naomi ropes Drea into helping her shoplift expensive lingerie, which she feels justified in doing because of the snotty clerks.
  • Flipping the Bird: Naomi flips Justin off for telling her to stop blowing off band practice.
  • Food Slap: On the first day of seventh grade, two girls invited Drea to sit with them. A week later they asked her why she kept sitting with them after they only invited her once, called her a clingy freak, and laughed at her. She got so upset that she threw a handful of red Jell-O at them.
  • Groin Attack: Drea kicks Scott in the groin twice to stop him from beating up Justin.
  • Happy Rain: Naomi loves dancing in the rain. Drea doesn't enjoy being rained on, but she does love the scent of rain. She wishes it came in bottles.
  • Hates Being Touched: Drea finds touch painful from everyone except her mom.
  • Hates Small Talk: Drea.
    If you don't care, don't ask me how I am. Chances are, I don't care how you are, either. And it's not because I don't respect you or I think you're a loser. I just don't know you well enough to care yet. So, let's pass each other in silence and go on with our lives.
  • Held Back in School: Justin is repeating junior year after spending time in juvie and rehab.
  • Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!: Once a boy named Kyle confessed his undying love for Drea behind the school library. She believed him until his friends came out laughing. They'd filmed the whole thing, and quickly posted it online.
  • It's Always Sunny at Funerals: Naomi's funeral takes place on a beautiful day, with singing birds and the sun breaking through the clouds.
  • Kitschy Themed Restaurant: The walls of Café Mars are covered in records, photographs, magazine cutouts, antique toys, and tires.
  • Lives in a Van: Drea and her mom spent some time living in a pickup truck at a campground, where Drea lived off cherry cola and Cheetos from the nearby gas station.
  • Loudness War: Drea hates recent bands with overly compressed, superloud mixes, which rattle her from the inside.
  • New Media Are Evil: Drea's grandma is terrified of the internet. She talks about a woman murdered by a man she met "on the computer" and is convinced hackers will break into Drea's mom's computer and steal her information. When Drea says that that only happens to people who answer scam emails and download viruses, she becomes even more anxious, since she hasn't heard of viruses.
  • No Medication for Me: Drea hates her medication, which makes her feel like a zombie, even though her mother thinks she's better behaved on it.
  • "Not So Different" Remark: Drea dislikes her grandma for being bossy and rude, but her mom points out that Drea is also very blunt and open about who she is.
  • Picky Eater: Drea has this problem to some extent, but her mother had it even worse as a child. She used to try to hide pork chops and broccoli so she wouldn't have to eat them. She had to vomit on her plate before anyone believed that pork chops actually made her sick.
  • Please Wake Up: When the protagonists find Naomi overdosed on meth, Kari and Drea both beg her to wake up while they wait for the ambulance.
  • Poster-Gallery Bedroom: Naomi's bedroom is lined with posters of various bands, most of which Drea doesn't like.
  • Really Moves Around: As other characters put it, Drea's mom changes cities the way other people change underwear.
  • Recovered Addict: Justin got hooked on speed to cope with his mom's death. He's gone completely straight now, but he won't touch any mind-altering substance for fear of getting hooked again.
  • The Runaway: Justin ran away from home during his first attempt at junior year because his dad tried to keep him housebound to keep him out of trouble when he wasn't at school.
  • Security Blanket: Drea used to have a gray blanket named Mr. Fuzzy that she took everywhere. One of the first things she notices about Justin is that his eyes are the same color as Mr. Fuzzy. As a teenager, she has a blue lunchbox that serves the same purpose.
  • Sensory Overload: Drea has spend her whole life living in or near cities, with "jarring sirens, drunk people fighting with their lovers on cell phones, six-inch robo-heels chasing the bus, and the scent of piss on newspaper" that she found unpleasantly intense.
  • Singing in the Shower: Naomi has a beautiful voice despite having no training besides years in the shower.
  • Stepford Smiler: Naomi acts cheerful all the time because she doesn't know how to be honest with the world, but what she really wants is for someone to look behind her mask and see how unhappy she really is.
  • Their First Time: When Drea and Justin have sex on his bed, it's her first time ever, and his first time in a serious relationship.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: Naomi has a glassy, vacant stare when she arrives at school on speed.
  • Your Makeup Is Running: Mascara streams down Kari's cheeks as she cries over Naomi's unconscious body.