None right now

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Lefty's Lowdown: The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr
Published: May 7, 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Source: Borrowed from school library
Summary from Goodreads: 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.
 My first Sara Zarr book. This novel has all the elements to make it irresistible for me. Music prodigies, taboo romance, family drama llama. After closing the book, I still love the ideas behind it but there were parts of the execution that fell flat to me, leaving me not completely satisfied.

My favorite aspect of the novel would have to be Lucy's family dynamic and all the tension there. A common trend in YA these days is absent parents/families. Zarr, however, really captures what a major impact that family can have on a teenager's life, and what  a major role they play. A brother left to pick up Lucy's slack. An overbearing grandfather and a mother who obeys his orders. A father thrown into the middle of it all. And underneath everything? A complicated, not-said-enough love.

The other parts...well, quite frankly, they bored me. Her conflict with her best friend, her relationship with Will, her English paper, her grandmother's ashes. It was all just meh. This novel was all about Lucy figuring out what she wanted, and that was fine, but it needed more excitement. Even the ending was pretty anticlimactic.

My biggest peeve in the novel was Lucy's "relationship" with Will. I love the whole forbidden fruit thing in novels. He is married, he's her brother's teacher. Let the scandal ensue! Or, you know, not. Aside from the occasional brushing of skin or meeting of gazes, nothing really happened between them. I don't know, I'm a romance fanatic, so that was really a let down for me. Even more than that, though, was the depth of their relationship. Lucy kept going on and on about how close they were, saying they had a connection and all that jazz, but I surely didn't get that feeling. I realize that he asked her some tough questions and supported her, but I just didn't think the connection they had was all that meaningful.

In a sentence: While this book had a good premise, the execution was not entirely satisfying.