Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Lucy Variations

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

I have another disclaimer! This is kind of fun.

Back in my K-12 days of school, I played the Clarinet in Band from grades 6-12. This book's narrations centers on Lucy who grew up with piano in her life since age 3 pretty much. As having some music background, I don't think I understood the story any better than anyone else. There are very few moments where she actually speaks of something that is technically a music term, but the context let's the understanding of the term be known. By few moments, I'm pretty sure there is roughly around three. It's a sentence. Not even.

So don't worry about it.

An amazon summary, "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." AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE

One, the timeline in that summary makes no sense. At all.

Lucy is sixteen when the book begins, and the book begins eight months after she's walked away from the music world. So at the youngest, she would be fifteen when the book began.

But other than that, I guess it was alright for a summary.

So the book begins with the shock of Madame Temnikova's death. In the first chapter Lucy tries to do CPR for Madame as her brother dials 911 to get an ambulance. We get a shattered glass image of who Lucy is as she compares the death to different aspects of her life that are still scrambling to get in the proper places.

The story switches to eight months ago, to show us just how much her life is different. Lucy is at Prague to perform in a very acclaimed festival of sorts and is very worried to leave her sick grandmother behind who she loves dearly. She's already out of sorts with coming while her grandmother is sick, but the show must go on.

The story switches gears on us again as it comes back to present day where Gus (her brother) has come to wake her and she's late for school. We're introduced to Mr. Charles at school; the English teacher that she has a crush on. She imagines herself to be friends with him and she is, sort of. She's notoriously late to his class as she is still adjusting to the notion of going to school every day (she's been out of school for a year or so to concentrate on the piano). It's at the point where she needs to be on time. She idolizes him and makes a point to pay attention to his class. The other classes she's enrolled in, she only makes passing mentions of them from time to time, it's the English class she describes the most. I'm mostly talking about this because Lucy reminds me of a butterfly; she kind of flutters from place to place trying to figure out how she fits in where since she's very out of her element (the piano circuit being the element she's been in for the past thirteen years or so).

The story does a lot of switching between moments, but not in a disorienting way; it's illustrating her life in a way as she thinks about it almost. Every time there is a flashback it's because she's been thinking about the past and what not. It makes sense. It's quite enjoyable.

Anyways, so we see some more of the family dynamic and the scramble to replace Madame Temnikova; enter Will. Will is taking over as Gus' teacher.

Everything begins to change as Will has a more interesting take on Gus' tutelage. We see a lot of Lucy's life get a little more flavor and run into her friends Reyna and Carson while she tries to make sense of what her life has become.

She's been striving to get the normal life, but is normal what makes her happy? Can she be happy without the piano?

I found the story to be riveting in the refreshing way. Lucy tries so hard to find love without punishment (the grueling work it takes to be in the piano circuit), can she play to just play?

There are a lot of different interesting relationship dynamics that take place.

I don't really know what else to say because I'm savoring this book a bit. It's really moving to find such a young voiced story that struggles with letting yourself love something without letting it become mortifying work; without letting it rule your life.

Happy reading!

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