BookBrowse Reviews Sounds Like Titanic by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman

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Sounds Like Titanic

A Memoir

by Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman

Sounds Like Titanic by  Jessica Chiccehitto  Hindman X
Sounds Like Titanic by  Jessica Chiccehitto  Hindman
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    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Feb 2019, 256 pages

    Feb 2020, 256 pages


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About this Book



In this clever, whip-smart memoir, Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman recalls her bizarre post-college career miming the violin to pre-recorded music at classical concerts under the direction of a mysterious figure called the Composer.

Out of 27 First Impressions reviews, 12 readers rated Sounds Like Titanic 5 stars, and 9 additional readers rated it 4 stars, for a combined average score of 4.4 out of 5 stars.

What it's about:
In the age of fake news, why not a story of fake music? Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman, a middling concert violinist from West Virginia, is hired on for a national tour with a well-known, yet unnamed composer. Her musical skills, no matter how good or bad, make no difference, since what she plays isn't heard by the audience. What they hear is simply music played from the composer's CD player (Mamie N). During Hindman's college years, she worked hard paying for her education. So when the opportunity to play professionally, on tour even, presents itself, she happily accepts. Who would have guessed that the music the ensemble played was actually emitted from a CD player attached to a large sound system. Because the gig was better than selling her eggs for IVF, Hindman plays on. But eventually, realizing there wouldn't be a career in music, Hindman sets her sights on becoming a Middle East expert/journalist. Through study and travel she becomes fluent in the language and customs, yet can't secure a position in which she can help others understand the nuances of the Mideast (Patricia L).

First Impressions reviewers appreciated the author's writing style, particularly her sense of humor:
The author may not be a talented violinist, but she sure can write! Her words are, at once, lyrical and engaging (Shelley C). Jessica Hindman's memoir of growing up in Appalachia and pursuing a dream of being a classical violinist was as amazing as it was funny. What four-year-old hears Vivaldi in a movie about a squirrel and bases her life on creating a skill set that will enable her to play that tune? (Judy K). Reading this book, I felt I was in the hands of someone wise, honest and very real (Joan R). Jessica Chiccehitto Hindman might not be a great violinist, but she's a very entertaining writer. Her humor engaged me from the start (Nanette C).

Many expressed sympathy for the author, and found her story inspirational:
Hindman's struggles may inspire others who find themselves stuck in a situation in which they feel out of their depth, to take control of their lives and move on (Shelley C). This book was very well written, with deep insights into growing up a self-avowed "average" person who thought she could work herself into being gifted (Judy K). Much of her self-discovery was spot on, reminding me what it was like to be a young woman trying to become self-sufficient no matter the cost (Beverly D). She arrives in New York as a very naïve, sheltered young woman, her pluck serves her well, and her personal growth throughout her story is compelling (Mamie N).

Readers also noted the book's engagement with important social and political issues:
I found this book a very interesting read. At first I thought it was going to be a comic novel (and it was quite funny at times), but it ended up also being a reflection on growing up female in a misogynistic culture, while also touching on regional and class issues (Susan B). The author examines our social system and the hypocrisy that exists regarding race, gender, wealth, privilege, education, etc. She draws a parallel noting that the audience that loves the fake concerts also loves—or at least tolerates—all our empty social pretenses (Barb F).

And many were infuriated by the author's depiction of the Composer:
I find myself obsessed with finding out who the Composer is and outing him for his selfishness towards his musicians and deception and greed towards his audiences (Shelley C). This book frustrated me at the end because she never exposes the Composer. She protects him and thus I think loses credibility, especially when she does expose some other big name performers (Barb F). I'm dying to know who the Composer really is; I'm hoping that when the book is released at the end of February we'll find out (Dotty S).

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in February 2019, and has been updated for the February 2020 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

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Beyond the Book:
  Student Debt


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