In the old days, when Kate had no interest in romance, she never cared what other people thought.
In a perceptive slice-of-life novel, Dowell (Dovey Coe) knowingly portrays the changing dynamics of middle-school relationships. The forever friendship of 11-year-old pals Kate and Marylin is put in doubt when older, self-assured, manipulative Flannery moves into their neighborhood.
Kate and Marylin, best friends from nursery school, find themselves increasingly out-of-sync as the rigors of sixth grade test their friendship. In The Secret Language of the Heart, award-winning producer and composer Barry Goldstein shares how every one of us—the musical and non-musical alike—can harness the power of music to alleviate specific illnesses, reverse negative mindsets and attitudes, dissolve creative blocks and improve overall health. Nurture your creativity, mindfulness, and productivity by creating customized playlists to suit your situation and mood. Goldstein presents step-by-step guidance—as well as dozens of song recommendations along the way—to help you create a new music routine that will heal, energize, and inspire.
Whether you want to alleviate stress, become more in tune with what you really want, activate your heart’s intelligence, or simply have your best day every day, using music and sound with intention is key—let this book show you the tools to build a simple musical practice that will transform your life. Barry Goldstein is a composer, producer, and researcher on the vibrational effects of music.
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Neighbors Kate and Marylin, who have been best friends since nursery school, find themselves drifting apart at the beginning of sixth grade.

The fact that her family chooses to buy the house right between Kate and Marylin is a first indication that Flannery is planning to wedge herself between the girls. The 11-year-olds begin to drift apart, however, when manipulative Flannery moves into the neighborhood. Kate loves basketball and doesn't care (much) what other people think, but Marylin finds that she is turning into "the sort of person who care[s] about toes." The penetrating text follows both girls through the course of the year, the third-person perspective moving back and forth between the two as Marylin and Kate drift apart. He also shares vivid stories of his own transformation through music, as well as the life-changing effects music has had on his clients. He brings his knowledge of frequency, resonance, entrainment, and harmonics into his recorded series Ambiology, which is being utilized in hospitals, hospices, medical offices, and homes worldwide. Marylin suddenly focuses on her appearance ("As much as Marylin hated to, she had to admit it: She was the sort of person who cared about toes").
Partly motivated by unhappiness and insecurity, the older girl influences the passive Marylin to turn against Kate.
The ructions to friendships brought on by middle school are hardly new to children's literature. Research on the benefits of his music is currently being conducted, and he is a sought-after speaker for medical and motivational conferences. Marylin joins the cheerleader crowd while Kate eventually gravitates toward classmates who don't follow the herd. What makes this offering stand out, however, is Dowell's ability to maintain the reader's sympathy with both girls: instead of painting the social-climbing Marylin as a villain, the nuanced characterization shows that she is equally a victim of forces beyond her understanding.

Told from various points of view, including those of characters closely involved with the events as well as others on the periphery, the story follows these girls as they struggle with hurt feelings, peer pressure, acceptance, and self-image. Less successful is the use of some secondary characters: a nonconformist girl seems to be introduced solely to provide a model for Kate, and Marylin's little brother threatens to steal the show at points. Although Marylin believes Kate to be totally immature, it is ironically Kate who ends up romantically involved with a slightly geeky boy who appreciates her kindness and growing sense of self-worth.
All three girls, Flannery included, learn difficult lessons as they choose to move in different social circles.
Her hard-won self-possession serves her well when she is the target of a mean prank in which Marylin participates; the tide turns, and kids will admire Kate's handling of the situation. Perhaps a bit unbelievably, the book ends with the repentant Marylin phoning her ex-best friend. Excellent characterization, an accurate portrayal of the painful and often cruel machinations of preteens, and evocative dialogue will make this tale resonate with most readers, who will see themselves and some of their peers in its pages.-B.
Allison Gray, John Jermain Library, Sag Harbor, NY Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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