Sunday, September 29, 2013

Book Review: The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

11819981The Lucy Variations
Author: Sara Zarr
Genre: YA realistic fiction
Publication Date: May 7th 2013
Publisher: Little, Brown
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 one girl's struggle to reclaim her love of music and herself. To find 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.

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.



  1. Sounds like an ok book. I also play piano but like you I only do it for fun!

    1. Piano IS fun. You don't have to go professional to enjoy it!! :)

  2. Aw ,sorry you didn't love this one. I really liked it. I agree that it was kind of a subtle book but I liked that about it!
    Thanks so much for stopping by! Jen @ YA Romantics

    1. I'm glad you liked it!! I understand why some people might like the subtleness of this book. Thanks for the comment <3

  3. The beginning does sound great, but sorry there was a lot that annoyed you

    1. There wasn't THAT MUCH that annoyed me. It was a good book.
      Thanks for the comment :)

  4. Sounds like it might be interesting...I might have to check it out. Also, I wanted to let you know that I nominated you for the Liebster Award! Check out my post for more information :)

    1. Thanks!! Sorry, I'm not doing awards right now, but thank you SO MUCH for nominating me <3

  5. I've never read anything by Sara Zarr and I've heard good things about this one, but I think the "older" relationship with skeeve me out as well. However, I do love music themes in books and Lucy's struggle to want to play again vs. the pressure of her family is intriguing. Not sure if I'll read this one or not yet, but thanks for the review!

  6. My friend's been pestering me to buy her a copy of this for a while. I'm personally not interested in this, but I'm kind of thinking twice now...

    Christie @ Read by the Undead

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