Summary and book reviews of The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

The Lucy Variations

by Sara Zarr

The Lucy Variations
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    May 2013, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2014, 336 pages

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Sharry Wright

Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist...but that was all before she turned fourteen. A story of one girl's struggle to reclaim her love of music and herself.

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.

1.
Try harder, Lucy.

Lucy stared down at Madame Temnikova's face.

Which seemed incredibly gray.

Try.
Harder.
Lucy.


She put her hands over Temnikova's sternum again, and again hesitated.

Stage fright: an opportunity to prove herself or a chance to fail. Which was nothing new for her. It just hadn't been a life or death issue until now.

This isn't a performance. Do something.

But an actual dying person in the living room wasn't the same as a Red Cross dummy in the school gym. Lucy tried not to think about Temnikova's skin under her hands. Or the way, from the looks of things, that skin now encased only a body, no longer a soul.

Except the moment wasn't definite. More like Temnikova was not there and then there and then not there. Mostly not.

Gus, Lucy's ten-year-old brother, started to ask the questions he didn't want to answer. "Is she . . ."

Dead?

Call nine-one-one, Gus," she ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

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).

Full Review Members Only (840 words).

Media Reviews

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.

Kirkus Reviews

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.

Publishers Weekly

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.

Booklist

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.

VOYA

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.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Child Musical Prodigies Past and Present

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart A music prodigy is a child, 12 or under, whose talent is considered on a level and competitive with skilled adult musicians. Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is still deemed one of the greatest child music prodigies—born in 1756, he started playing harpsichord at age three. By the age of five he was accomplished at reading and playing music and by age six began performing publically, eventually becoming one of the most famous and prolific composers in history. Other historic well-known music prodigies include George Bizet who started studying at the Paris Conservatory of Music before he was ten; Frederic Chopin who composed "Polonaises in G minor and B flat major 9" at the age of seven; Franz Liszt who performed his first major concert at ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked The Lucy Variations, try these:

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member


Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Book Discussion
Book Jacket
The Opposite of Everyone
by Joshilyn Jackson

"Quirky and appealing characters, an engaging story, and honest dialogue make this a great book!"
- BookBrowse

About the book
Join the discussion!

Award Winners

  • Book Jacket: A Great Reckoning
    A Great Reckoning
    by Louise Penny
    Canadian author Louise Penny is back with her twelfth entry in the Chief Inspector Armand Gamache ...
  • Book Jacket: Homegoing
    Homegoing
    by Yaa Gyasi
    It's all very well to challenge people to be the masters of their own destiny, but when you&#...
  • Book Jacket: When Breath Becomes Air
    When Breath Becomes Air
    by Paul Kalanithi
    When Breath Becomes Air is the autobiography of Paul Kalanithi, written in the time period between ...

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Victoria
    by Daisy Goodwin

    Daisy Goodwin breathes new life into Victoria's story, and does so with sensitivity, verve, and wit." - Amanda Foreman

    Read Member Reviews

Who Said...

It is among the commonplaces of education that we often first cut off the living root and then try to replace its ...

Click Here to find out who said this, as well as discovering other famous literary quotes!

Word Play

The Big Holiday Wordplay:
$400+ in Prizes

Enter Now

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.