Tuesday, November 5, 2013
Rachel Rambles About The Lucy Variations
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.
Ahhh, Sara Zarr. What a wonderful author. I adore her writing style, and I enjoyed losing myself in another one of her stories with The Lucy Variations. Her writing is so easy to get caught up in, and it's impossible (for me, at least) to not fall in love with her characters and stories.
Lucy is a complicated character. In some moments, I loved her and found myself able to relate to her really well, but in other moments, I was extremely frustrated by her and had trouble understanding her actions. I may not have always liked her, but I was able to appreciate how human and realistic of a character she is. It's natural to both agree and disagree with people, depending on the situation, so my feelings about Lucy felt very natural. Overall, I appreciated Lucy's character and enjoyed reading about her.
The majority of this book focuses on Lucy and her family. Lucy is a talented piano player who used to play piano professionally and in competitions. Her grandfather and mother put a lot of pressure on her to succeed, and she eventually decided to stop playing piano, which makes her feel as if she is disappointing her family. Her father is the character who doesn't quite belong in the family. He does not play piano, nor has he ever played piano, and he is not the one putting pressure on Lucy. He's also not the one calling any of the shots in the family, which makes him likable but somewhat bland and unimportant to the story as a whole. Gus, Lucy's little brother, is following in Lucy's footsteps as a ten-year-old, extremely talented piano player performing in competitions. The family dynamic in this book is fascinating and complicated and slightly dysfunctional, which results in a great family story.
The other important relationship in The Lucy Variations is between Lucy and her brother's new piano teacher, Will. He is quite a bit older than Lucy, and their relationship is...interesting. I won't say anything more, for fear of spoilers, but I found their relationship to be messy and blurry and brilliantly written. I was impressed with Sara Zarr's ability to portray this complicated relationship in such a positive and straightforward way. There was the potential for Lucy and Will's relationship to become uncomfortable, had the story been told in any other way, but Sara Zarr was able to handle the topic with elegance.
To me, The Lucy Variations is about a family, with some other things thrown in for good measure. I love reading stories that focus on families because I feel like there aren't enough out there, so The Lucy Variations was perfect for me. This book also explores the importance of music and creativity and separating your passion from your work. It made me want to play piano and lose myself in the music, despite the fact that my piano-playing abilities are extremely limited. Lucy's passion for music and piano bled through the pages and into my heart, and I was touched by the simple beauty of this book.