Title: Tash Hearts Tolstoy
Author: Kathryn Ormsbee
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Release Date: June 6th 2017
Kathryn Ormsbee’s Tash Hearts Tolstoy is the kind of book that quietly sneaks up on you and by the time you’ve finished, you realized you’ve fallen irrevocably in love with its characters. The only thing Tash may love more than Leo Tolstoy is filmmaking. Tash and her best friend Jack have been working on a web series adaptation of Anna Karenina and though they only dreamed of it being a success, nothing prepares the girls for what happens when they get a shout out from a popular vlogger. Overnight, they go from a few hundred subscribers to thousands. Handling Unhappy Families suddenly popularity is much harder than Tash ever expected and if she isn’t careful, it may cost her the most important people in her life.
Tash is like a breath of fresh air. Her voice comes across so clear on the page that it isn’t hard to imagine her as a living, breathing person. Ormsbee has created a character whose greatest strengths tend to work against her. Though driven and imaginative, Tash’s focus can sometimes eclipse the opinions of those around her. Her relationship with her sister Klaudie is a great example of this. Tash is used to being second best. She knows she’s not as smart as her sister and tends to use this difference in intelligence as a way to judge Klaudie. Throughout the course of the novel, Tash and Klaudie’s relationship slowly moves past sibling rivalry. Tash begins to see her sister as an individual with pressures and expectations of her own. She’s struggling just as much as Tash to find out who she is when everyone around her is so sure they know better than herself. This is also the first novel I’ve read with a asexual protagonist and Ormsbee addresses so many aspects of this identity. Tash is still working out how to express who she is while also dealing with feelings of inadequacy and isolation, as well as dealing with erasure and aphobia from those who around her.
The minor characters in Tash Hearts Tolstoy are so well-developed, but also leave room for further exploration. Jack is one of the most moody characters I’ve come across. In many way, she’s the opposite of Tash. More introvert than anything else, Jack isn’t one to let other people know how she feels, but she can also be incredibly abrasive and almost too ready to share her opinion. Her personality adds a lot of balance to Tash’s enthusiastic one. Jack’s brother Paul is also a constant in Tash’s life. More gregarious than his sister, Paul is the one that Tash finds it hard not to be honest around. I personally really liked the dynamic between these three characters. They grew up together, but are still figuring out how to relate to one another as each of them grows into adulthood. Aside from Tash’s family, Jack and Paul make up such a huge part of Tash’s world. Her growth as a person hinges on how she relates to these two just as much as how she relates to her sister or parents.
With a charming protagonist and a heavy focus on family and friendship, Tash Hearts Tolstoy is a must-read for the contemporary fan and those who love web series adaptations of classic novels.