I had always been the invisible art student in high school.
Passed by. Glossed over. Unnoticed.
Now I was Aria Watson…that girl.
After one bad decision, and being labeled a slut, I was no longer unseen. I was the whore. The ignoramus. The tramp.
I would never be invisible again.
Particularly to Levi Myers. He was the odd boy with the beautiful soul who accepted and understood the broken girl inside me.
Falling in love wasn’t the plan. But how could I resist his promises of hope? Of forgiveness? Of a future I had stopped dreaming of?
We were shattered. We were scarred. We were something strange and beautiful.
We were two lost souls holding on to the only thing that could keep us together.
Where to start with this one . . . I’ve read my first Brittainy C. Cherry book earlier this year – Loving Mr. Daniels – and I instantly fell in love with her incredible and moving writing. After finishing that book I told myself, this is what reading a good book should leave you like: content and in awe. But little did I know she’ll write Art & Soul and make me fall in love with her all over again.
Art & Soul is one of those rare books that made me smile and cry at the same time – and they weren’t happy tears, they were ‘the sad tears of a clown’. She ripped my heart out but by the end it was patched back together. I can’t say a lot about the plot as it has some ‘spoilery’ qualities, but I’ll try the best I can.
The book follows Levi and Aria and their friendship story. Told in dual POV, we first get to meet Levi who’s moving to a different state in order to reconnect with his absent father and to get a bit of distance between himself and his doting mother. Then we are introduced to Aria and her family and we get to share in the ‘little’ secret she’s been withholding from them. The first meeting between the two is unexpected – he’s holding berries for a deer to eat. That’s Levi for you – he’s the handsome, ‘boy-next-door’ savior. From that moment on they start meeting frequently, either in the bus stop or at school and are even thrown into a school project together – Aria’s a talented painter and Levi plays the violin. It’s because of this that they connect and form a tight bond. From here on out we follow them on their journey of self discovery – they go to school, hang out with friends, have little fights, but in the end nothing matters. All the little things we get so concerned about are just a speck of dust in the grand scheme of life as they all realize in the end.
The relationship between Aria and Levi felt 100 % real. They acted like the 16 and 17 year old teenagers they were – with a bit of extra luggage, of course – but the author made them believable. Their relationship starts off slow – partners, friends, lovers. The attraction was there from the get go, but seeing as Aria isn’t your typical teen, their relationship wasn’t one either. I loved seeing Aria blush at a tiny peck on the cheek or seeing them just sit side by side with their pinkies entwined. There was something sweet and magical about those scene – it made me look at them as the poster couple for YA novels.
Another aspect I adored were their friends – Simon and Abigail – they are the ones who show you that you never really know someone unless you’ve walked a mile in their shoes. Appearances are deceitful and what better way to see that than from the school’s ‘awkward’ students. They both have secrets than no one on the outside could see. I enjoyed seeing the popular new kid join forces with the school’s pariah, the nerdy kid and the weird girl. They formed somewhat of a ‘band of misfits’ and it was wonderful to see the love between them.
The writing – there aren’t enough praise words to use for this author. She reminds of Colleen Hoover in her early days. Brittainy’s prose is poetic and imaginative – her character and nature descriptions are so vivid and rich that I feel like I’m a part of the world she describes. All her protaginists are approachable, the kind of people someone might have as friends in real life. Her use of old and modern references doesn’t turn the dialogue into something cliche, more than often it made me go look them up (I’ve learned more Marc Aurelius quotes now than in school) and in a weird way touched my heart.
For me this is a 5++++ star read. ‘Art & Soul’, I’ll cherish and ‘I love you till the end’.
Brittainy Cherry has been in love with words since the day she took her first breath. She graduated from Carroll University with a Bachelors Degree in Theatre Arts and a minor in Creative Writing. She loves to take part in writing screenplays, acting, and dancing–poorly of course. Coffee, chai tea, and wine are three things that she thinks every person should partake in! Brittainy lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with her family. When she’s not running a million errands and crafting stories, she’s probably playing with her adorable pets.