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.
*Quick side note: Every time I read the word piano, the song “Over the Love” by Florence + The Machine would start to play in my head. “I’ll sing by the PIANO…” What? No singing? Oh, okay.
I have a lot of mixed feelings for The Lucy Variations. The beginning intrigued me, the middle bored me, and I found the end to be a little disturbing.
Lucy and I never connected. I thought her actions were majorly creepy. She crushes on older men, like her English teacher and her brother’s married piano teacher (and they reciprocate it too, so everyone is at fault). She leaves her teacher gifts and always hangs around the classroom. Also, she quickly develops a weird infatuation with the piano teacher, and talks about the bond and friendship they share, despite only having had a few interactions with him. The strangest part of all occurs when Lucy goes through his bedroom, touching his things and even stealing one of his belongings.
I couldn’t understand her because she never realizes her actions have consequences. Gus, Lucy’s little brother, specifically asks her to leave Will alone. Obviously, she ignores him and it hurts Gus. Lucy acts a bit shocked when Gus stays mad at her. Well, I don’t blame him! Lucy is a very spoiled 16 year old who I couldn’t relate with.
Throughout the novel Lucy struggles with her decision to play piano or leave it behind for good. I understood her hesitation, yet it was weird how she felt like she couldn’t even play privately in her home.
Overall, The Lucy Variations is not for me. I felt removed from most of the characters. The story and writing were expertly done, yet some of the events made me feel odd and uncomfortable. I feel conflicted about rating this one because I liked the overall message that people are allowed to make mistakes, but Lucy and Will did too many things that I couldn’t look past.