3 out of 5 stars
I had a hard time rating this book. There were some things that I really loved about it and then some parts I was just not happy with. So let's start with the basic plot and go from there. Lucy is sixteen years old and a gifted classical pianist. Or she was, until something happened to make her walk away from it all. Now it's been eight long months and she's beginning to wonder if she made a mistake. But can she come back to that world? Her domineering grandfather says no. But her younger brother's new piano teacher says absolutely. So who should she listen to? And more importantly, what does she actually want?
Lucy is a pretty typical girl in a lot of ways but then she's not at the same time. She's become accustomed to all the perks of being a child prodigy and when she throws that all away, she has to get used to being a normal teenager again. She is much more mature than her classmates and considers herself an adult in a lot of cases, namely with her relationships with actual adults. And this was one of the parts of the book that I didn't like and will get into after the spoiler owl.
Lucy's younger brother, Gus(tav), has inherited the family talent and is now expected to take Lucy's place in all the competitions and performances. Gus is sweet and kind and a typical younger brother who wants his big sister's approval but doesn't want to seem too eager for it. When his new piano teacher, Will, starts to take an interest in Lucy as well, he gets a little jealous. This brother/sister dynamic was an interesting part of the book and I think it was done well. Same with Lucy and her parents and grandfather...you can see the importance the family puts on being "talented" and what a burden that can be on everyone involved. But you also see the love and pride, if you look deep enough (in the grandfather's case).
Now lets talk about the music, because like the circus itself in The Night Circus, the piano and music become almost another character in this story. I know I've said this before, but I love classical music. My dad made me listen to it as a teenager and it just stuck, I guess. It's a total cliche to say, but Mozart is my favorite. It just seems to take you to another world when you listen to music stripped of words and dubbing and all those fancy music things people do now lol. It's funny how a piano, one instrument, can make you cry with its beauty. And that's what I love about this book, that it shows that love. I can overlook all the other stuff just for that.
(One of the pieces mentioned in the book,
highly recommend listening to all the movements I-V)
Okay, here's the big thing that I had a problem with: Lucy's relationships with adult males ie: Will and her English teacher. Both were youngish and good looking and showed a special interest in Lucy. Now, I would NOT have a problem if that's where Zarr wanted her story to go. I'd be okay with that. But she never fully committed to it. She hinted at it and said yes, this could possibly happen. But there was no resolution, no conflict to make it warranted. It just felt cheap.