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.
The title, The Lucy Variations, says much about the story. Musical variations refer to a technique where certain features of a tune, a piece, are altered while others remain the same. In a similar manner, Lucy must find a way to change her expectations and her relationship to music and to her family, while remaining true to herself. The Lucy Variations is a life-affirming novel that uses one girl's unusual journey to speak to the bigger question of "Who am I?" (Reviewed by Sharry Wright).
The New York Times
…an elegant novel…Zarr vividly develops the title character, illuminating Lucy’s teenage insecurities, her close and fractious friendships and the coming-of-age realization that she can pursue her dreams on her own terms.
The Horn Book
…the novel’s strength is Zarr’s unflinching attention to the gray areas on Lucy’s life, where adults are fallible, decisions are reversible, and passions can guide you forward or lead you astray. The result is both a satisfying coming-of-age story and a thoughtful treatise on art, identity, and personal fulfillment.
Starred Review. The combination of sympathetic main character and unusual social and cultural world makes this satisfying coming-of-age story stand out. Fiction. 12-18.
Starred Review. The pressures Lucy is under feel powerful, immediate, and true - her journey of self-discovery will strike a profound chord with readers. Ages 12–up.
Starred Review. [Zarr] really, truly gets inside her characters' minds and shows us what makes them complex human beings - their faults, fears, and hopes...This is a mellifluous novel about rekindling joy - in music, in the everyday, and in the beauty around us.
School Library Journal
Starred Review. This strong coming-of-age story about music, passion, and the search for identity will appeal to longtime fans of Zarr’s work and newcomers alike.
This is a wonderfully written story with fully realized characters. Even when they are disagreeable, each comes across as genuine and relatable in an engaging story beautifully told.
Told in alternating voices and filled with music, friendship, and romance, A Little Wanting Song is about the kind of longing that begins as a heavy ache but ultimately makes us feel hopeful and wonderfully alive.
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits - smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you'll remember your own first love - and just how hard it pulled you under.
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