The Lucy Variations

tumblr_mmuhz3gqJk1rkciaro1_500Title: The Lucy Variations
Author: Sara Zarr
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: May 7, 2013
Pages: 320
Genre: Contemporary
Source: Library
Rating: 3/5

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?


Fans of Jessica Martinez’s Virtuosity will love Sara Zarr’s latest release. The Lucy Variations is a beautiful story about music, love, and learning to forgive. This is definitely Zarr’s best book since Story of a Girl, which I loved, but since the writing still wasn’t exactly where I think she can go, so that’s why I’m only giving this book a three.

I’m really not sure how to review this book because the subject matter is so personal for me, but I’ll give it a go anyway.

This wasn’t necessarily the best music book I’ve ever read, or the best Sara Zarr book, but what it does have going for it is the true-ness of the emotion behind it. Zarr does a great job at capturing what it feels like to be a young musician in high-pressure situations. While I never had as much musical pressure to deal with as Lucy, I still know enough to be able to say with authority that Lucy’s struggles are something that many musicians go through. Maintaining your love of music can be difficult at times when pressure starts mounting, and you can lose sight of what you love about music, as Lucy certainly did. So that part of the book worked.

I noticed on Goodreads that a lot of reviewers were “very put-off” by Lucy’s “obsession” with older men and by Will’s interest in her. I actually thought Lucy’s attraction to older men made sense, since that was who she’s always been around, and it could be one way for her to rebel. Plus, some girls just like older guys. It’s a personal thing, and it added to our understanding of Lucy as a character. I think sometimes with books, readers get too caught up in judging particular parts of a character and think of that one thing as their defining characteristic So there’s that too.

Basically, my disappointment in the book had nothing to do with plot, but with the writing. For some reason I kept thinking about how much more powerful it could’ve been if certain other writers had written the same story, or if the Sara Zarr who wrote Story of a Girl had written it. I guess with this particular topic, I was expecting more raw emotion and lyricism from the writing, so I didn’t love the book as much as I thought I would.

In general though, I did like The Lucy Variations and would certainly recommend it to fellow book and music lovers. –faith in Sara Zarr restored slightly–



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