Wednesday, May 15, 2013

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. The right people knew her name, her performances were booked months in advance, and her future seemed certain.
That was all before she turned fourteen.
Now, at sixteen, it's over. A death, and a betrayal, led her to walk away. That leaves her talented ten-year-old brother, Gus, to shoulder the full weight of the Beck-Moreau family expectations. Then Gus gets a new piano teacher who is young, kind, and interested in helping Lucy rekindle her love of piano -- on her own terms. But when you're used to performing for sold-out audiences and world-famous critics, can you ever learn to play just for yourself?
National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr takes readers inside the exclusive world of privileged San Francisco families, top junior music competitions, and intense mentorships. The Lucy Variations is a story of one girl's struggle to reclaim her love of music and herself. It's about finding joy again, even when things don't go according to plan. Because life isn't a performance, and everyone deserves the chance to make a few mistakes along the way.
In the book we have Lucy who is a child prodigy for the piano. She was molded in her grandfathers image of what a successful musician should be, even though she was a small child. She loved the music, but when that became the only world she saw, she became tired of the whole competition scene. She missed so much and after a family betrayal, she walked away. However, can you put that much pressure on a child and expect them to decide what they will or won't do for the rest of their life at the age of 15/16? It's this theme as well as growing into adulthood is what the book is all about.

There were some parts that people may not like. There was some very close to inappropriate behavior from the older adult crushes she had. It never went too far, however, and they also became springboards for her growth. It also made sense that she would have these crushes on older adults since her childhood was filled with adults and looking for that approval from them. She had to grow and relearn much of what may have otherwise come naturally.

I do admit I didn't like Will, an older prodigy who helps her get back to what she loved who does skate closer to the inappropriate behavior than any other character. His manipulations were angering, but I loved the way Lucy handled it in the end. So, I thought her behavior in the end was more adult than then adults that surrounded her. Lucy had great character growth. She does adress his behavior in a very adult manner. Much more adult than Will showed. Without that growth, I'd have to say I would have not liked this book at all.

I give this book 3 1/2 stars. It is a good character growth book and a good music book. It's about finding out who you are and what you love in life.
I received this eARC from Little Brown and no compensation for my review was given.

25 comments:

  1. I've never read a Sara Zarr book before, but even those who are great fans were slightly disappointed by this. I don't think this is a good book for me to start with, but I recently ordered Once Was Lost and will hopefully be reading it as soon as it gets here.
    This Will character sounds both infuriating and a bit creepy and I'm glad she handled him in the end.
    Great review, my friend.

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    1. I will read other books of hers since there was so much praise for them. I also understand the disappointment. You really needed to get to the end and even then it may not be enough for some people. I'm an ending gal! :D

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  2. Hmm, despite your saying this was a good character growth book (something which is very important to my enjoyment of a novel) I'm not convinced this is a read for me.

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  3. I do love music books, where the sounds permeate the entire story. Lucy sounds like she's had a rough time as a prodigy and I can't imagine making those decisions at just 15 or 16. Thank goodness I wasn't a prodigy at anything! (heh)

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    1. Me either. :D I thought it was terribly unfair of them to expect that!

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  4. I haven't read a Sara Zarr book before. But I been wanting to read this one. I like growth in a character. I may just pick this one up. Nice review.

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    1. I hope you enjoy! I do want to try her other books.

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  5. hmmm I don't think this one is for me, it's really different from what I read I confess.

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    1. It may not be for you. I know you don't read many contemp YA.

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  6. I really like Zarr's writing, especially when it comes to character growth. I already have this one on my tbr and hope to read it soon. Thanks for the review!

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  7. I have heard about it but never read anything by her

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  8. I have this on my TBR pile for the weekend, I'm really looking forward to it! Glad to hear that Lucy has great character growth by the end. I'm really curious about what Will does that crosses the line though. I love Sara's other books, and still have pretty high hopes for this. I'm very relieved to hear you enjoyed it for the most part. Wonderful review! :-)

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  9. I am recognizing the name but I can't think of book by her. I love the piano and music aspects in this one and I know can totally relate as we are all pianists in my family and I know that pressure. I am not sure about the skating along inappropriate relationships, though. I will keep this in mind! THanks for the honest input!

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  10. Can you believe I have yet to read my first book by Sara Zarr? I'm always spotting her books on various blogs and always hear good things about them. But I guess this one I won't be starting with, because I am not the greatest fan of music themed stories. Thanks for your review though:)

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  11. This sounds interesting and some parents, adults are so driven when they see a spark of talent in their young children. I would probably rip my hair out reading this because of the relationships, but totally agree a child surrounded by adults would be drawn to them. Great review!

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  12. I've seen this around a lot. Doesn't look like you enjoyed it as much as some of the other people but you also had some very insightful remarks that others didn't. I know a little more about the book now than I did before. I don't think its quite what I'm looking for, but excellent review. Look at you and all your YA!

    Heather

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  13. I've seen more mixed reviews of this book than any of Zarr's previous novels and I think it's probably because, as you said, of the relationships. Still, I'm really interested to read this one, so I'm glad you enjoyed it! :)

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  14. I haven't read this author yet but I do have this book. I haven't read many reviews of it but was hoping to fit it in this month. Not su;re if that will happen though... but I'm glad that in the end you ended up enjoying the story.

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  15. Sounds potentially frustrating at times but very good. At least Lucy seems to learn to handle herself.

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  16. I have read other books by her and am interested despite possibly grr moments.

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  17. I never heard of this book before, but I like that it's about finding out who you are and what you love in life.

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