Between fulfilling family obligations and navigating the tricky social climate at her private school, Sydney Mendoza tries hard to keep a balance.
Himig Raymundo, on the other hand, knows the feeling of living in the shadow of his successful parents and the agony of being with schoolmates who won’t let him forget it.
When Sydney and Himig get “volunteered” to be the stars of High School Night by their batchmates who want to see them fail miserably, they band together to prove everyone wrong, and, in the process, find the one silver lining in the prank – each other.
In the midst of college applications and entrance exams, Sydney finds herself at a crossroads: work abroad to earn money for her family or continue on to college on al all-expense-paid scholarship. Ironically, Himig, the school campus’s reluctant star, becomes the rock that anchors her so she won’t get lost in the fray.
No longer bound in anonymity, Himig gets a chance to finally step out of his famous parents’ shadow and show everyone who he really is, as Sydney reveals to him her most hidden secret*
*Summary from Yeyet Soriano’s website
Title: In Tune
Author: Yeyet Soriano
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
Targeted Age Range: Young Adult
Representation: Filipino cast, gay side characters
Trigger Warnings: Mentions of sex, mentions of teen pregnancy
As a Filipino American reader, I cannot tell you how much joy reading a book with a completely Filipino cast brings me! There were some things mentioned – mostly food – that reminded me of my childhood when I would be with my grandma and she would tell me stories about her childhood in the Philippines as we made lumpia or I watched her make pancit. Real talk, this book really made me crave pancit and lumpia! While I did not grow up in the Philippines nor have I visited the Philippines, reading a book set in the country where some of my family is from was so lovely and brought a real sense of joy and made me feel connected to that part of my heritage even though there were things that I personally couldn’t relate to having being born and raised in the United States.
Initially, I was drawn to this book because of the musical storyline and there is quite a lot of it. Sydney performs in a band with her family, but she also wishes to have her own band where she can be herself and not play a character, which later happens when she and Himig start a band, Melody, with their friends. Additionally, both Himig and Zyon’s mother’s are famous stage actresses, which I thought was great. Also, loved the Lea Salonga shout-out, we hardcore stan Lea Salonga in this house.
While the musical aspect of the story is what drew me to it, my favorite part of the book is the strong friendship between Sydney, Himig, Chloe, Zyon, Cha, and Emmet – affectionately referred to as Himig’s Birthday Bash Group (HBBG) as Himig’s birthday is when they all really bonded. Sydney comes from a very different background than the other characters. Her family really is just scraping by, while Himig and his friends live very privileged lives because of their parent’s livelihoods. Sydney struggles with a lot in her life and I loved that she didn’t have to struggle to be accepted into this friend group. The entire group was so supportive of one another and it was very clear how much they really cared about each other. I love stories with really strong friendships and this book had just that.
I also really liked Sydney as the main character. I thought that she was incredibly strong, hardworking, and driven. It was great to read a story where the character’s real dream was to go to college and be the first person in her immediate family to do so. There are so many stories about kids who can’t wait to be finished with school and while that’s totally real and true, it was a nice change of pace to see a character who worked hard and wanted to continue their education. It was especially admirable because of how much her mother seemed to be opposed to higher education because of how education or lack thereof affected the lives of her sisters. One of Sydney’s aunts went to college, became a teacher, and is not rich while her other aunt didn’t go to college and married a rich guy. Because of this, Sydney’s mother has a different view on the value of education and expects her children to have the same views.
Sydney doesn’t let that deter her from pursuing her goals. She continually works hard and does everything she can to get scholarships and apply to college (including skipping meals so that she can use that money for college applications) while also upholding the expectations that her family has set for her to help provide for them. I truly was blown away by her resilient character and found it very admirable.
While I thought that there were lots of positives, I felt that the writing left some things to be desired. Sometimes the structure felt a bit choppy and I was worried that there was something that I was missing, which pulled me out of the story a few times. I also felt like we could’ve gone deeper into Sydney’s family life and their relationships. We had some of it, but their dynamic was pretty interesting and I would’ve linked to have delved deeper into that. Some of the writing felt a bit surface level to me.
The overall message of In Tune is about working hard, following your passions, and not letting others’ opinions of you define who you are which I think is incredibly important. Especially in the age of social media where we’re so concerned with being perceived a certain way to gain followers and notability, it’s so easy to lose sight of who we are and what our values are. This book reminds us of the importance of that, and I think that is a wonderful message for everyone.
I found In Tune to have a great message with characters that I liked and wanted to see succeed, but ultimately the writing left me wanting more. Overall, it was a quick and fun read.
About the Author
Yeyet Soriano is a multi-genre author who writes speculative fiction, crime fiction and contemporary romance. She started writing first as an angst-ridden teenager, then continued to do so as a single working woman, then as a married working woman with kids. Though the themes of her written works have changed over the years, she held on to one truth—she needs to write to keep the voices in her head at bay.
Based in Manila, Philippines, her day job is that of an Asia-Pacific regional senior IT manager for a multinational corporation. She is married to a man who has never read of any of her works (he only reads to fall asleep), and they have three wonderful kids—a daughter in college and who is pursuing her passion for street dance, a sweet daughter in seventh grade who is a budding poet and writer in her own right, and a son in fourth grade who is unbelievably smart and charming but takes after his dad in that he won’t read unless forced..