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? (Goodreads)
Eight months ago Lucy Beck-Moreau walked away from it all on a stage in Prague. She’d had a promising career as a pianist–already a tiny bit of a celeb in that world of young competitors–but after a devastating loss, and after a breach of trust on the part of her family, she shut down and left music behind, much to the dismay of her grandfather. The family’s passion for music is currently pushed and financed by Grandfather, a well-respected and well to do man who is somewhat difficult to please. He has high expectations and, there’s no question, things must be done his way (needless to say, things between him and Lucy are tense). Now Lucy’s younger brother, Gus, also a musical prodigy, is thrust front and center, the focus of all the family’s resources.
Lucy lives with guilt and anger toward her mom and her grandfather. She knows she’s let them down in a spectacular way, but part of her resents that they’ve stolen from her her love of playing the piano. And in the end, when she was at the breaking point, she learned she really couldn’t trust either of them. As Gus welcomes a new piano teacher, Will, into the fold, Lucy becomes enveloped in him and his charming methods. He begins to privately encourage her, to make her feel safe and to help her see that perhaps her anger is misplaced. He reminds her of what she loves about music. And, of course, that awkward crush ensues. The one where you want to scream, “Don’t text him, No!” The whole thing–the anger, the loss, the disenchantment, even the crush–begins to cause problems for the family as a whole.
I liked this book. I didn’t fall head over heels for it as I have other Zarr books, but this was a different style for her altogether (not as heavy, though not without real emotion). I love Zarr and her characters, the way they see life, the mistakes they make. Lucy is someone I wanted to strangle at times (as was Will, who could charm your socks off one minute and become a creepers the next). I loved the flashbacks, memories of Lucy’s life before, life with a grandmother whom she adored. Those moments really captured my heart. I felt her loss, the pain Lucy experienced and that hole left in her life.
Overall, I feel Zarr did here what she does best: she captured moments we can all relate to, emotions we’ve all felt in one way or another, and she nailed them down to a place or a person who is somehow completely different from us and yet somehow, in big and small ways, quite the same.
Crush Intensity: 4/5 Sara Zarr is and will always be one of my favorites. I liked this book, even though it didn’t completely knock my socks off. It was good.
Thank you to Little, Brown & Company and Net Galley for sharing an e-galley of The Lucy Variations with me in exchange for an honest review.