The Lucy Variations
Author: Sara Zarr
Genre: YA realistic fiction
Publication Date: May 7th 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown
I was soooo excited about this book when I first heard about it a few months ago. First of all - the cover caught my eye with its beautiful purple script on a background of a piano keyboard. Secondly, I am a huge fan of piano playing. I play it myself (not professionally or anything, just for fun), and I get really excited when I meet someone who can play it well. I was intrigued to read about a piano prodigy my age living her life as a professional pianist.
This book is about Lucy, a 16-year-old girl who is a very talented pianist. Eight months ago, after years of playing in competitions and showcases, she suddenly decides to quit her music career. Her obsessed-with-success grandpa and her mom are very disappointed with her, and declare her decision as final - she'll never play again. That's why she avoids touching the piano for 8 months - she's afraid of their reaction, even though deep in her heart, she misses playing very badly.
The situation changes when her younger brother, who is also a gifted pianist, gets a new piano teacher - Will. Will, a young and kind pianist is very interested in Lucy's playing and slowly tries to convince her to start playing again, and this time for herself more than anyone else. Can Lucy do that? Can she make up with her family? Will she ever play again?
This book got my hooked right from the first page. I was intrigued by Lucy's love of music and how she played it. She lived and breathed music, and that was something I adored. It's pretty rare to find someone that already knows at the age of 16 what he really loves to do. Lucy's passion for music felt real and was also kind of contagious - I suddenly got much more motivation to practice the piano thanks to her!! I really enjoyed it when she described the music she listened to with so much love and excitement. It was like an avid reader describing books.
The story of Lucy's life was pretty interesting - I liked reading about her way to the top (right before she quitted). I found out that she never did it out of her own will. Her family decided she has to play professionally, without even asking her if she wants to. She didn't have any choice over her own life, and became a "piano zombie" as she called it.
I enjoyed reading about her experiences as a young pianist - about the festivals she attended, about the attention she got from people, about her feeling before and while performing. Her life were extraordinary, and it was actually what made the book interesting.
This book also had a bunch of things that annoyed me and on the top of them was the romance. Lucy had a thing for older guys, and when I say older I mean over 30. Or maybe even 40. That was more than a little weird!! At first it was her teacher, and then she fell for Will. And Will is married!! She has no shame, this girl. Lucy's crushes made her a stereotypical teenage character and that was so annoying. I mean, crushes like that happen only in stupid teenage movies.. I didn't expect it from a novel written by a National Book Award finalist. >_<
I can't really explain what else didn't work for me. It just that.. this book kind of lacked the depth I would expect from a realistic novel. I wanted more drama, more emotions. Everything was kind of flat. I like books that make you feel the characters' emotions, but it never happened here. This book didn't move me, didn't make me feel sad or happy or angry and I missed that!!
Overall, this was quite an interesting read with a nice premise. I liked it mostly because of the musical aspect, but I didn't love it or feel particularly connected to it. I would recommend it to people who like classical music and are interested in reading about the lives of child piano prodigies.