The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr
Sixteen year old Lucy Beck-Moreau can hardly remember a time when playing the piano was not the center of her life. She has been pushed so hard by her family all her life to perform, that she just snaps during a European competition and walks off stage without playing a note. Her domineering grandfather says, “I take this as your final decision, Lucy,” and now all the pressure and praise are on her younger brother Gus. Without her music, Lucy is lost, but feels like she isn’t even allowed to play at all anymore until Gus’s new teacher Will encourages her to play just for her own enjoyment. Told in the third person perspective from Lucy’s point of view, readers learn about her hopes, fears, insecurities and relationships. Zarr is beloved for her heartfelt protagonists, and Lucy is no exception. Even the supporting characters are fleshed out and feel real, from her privileged San Francisco mother to her favorite English teacher who she crushes on.
This is a wonderful and unique coming of age novel. It will surely be a hit with fans of Sarah Zarr, but can also be appreciated by readers who are intrigued by the privileged life of the San Francisco upper crust. I highly recommend this book to all teen readers.