The Lucy Variations

The Lucy Variations by Sara ZarrThe Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr
Publisher: Little, Brown
Number of pages:
309

My copy: hardbound, ordered from Book Depository

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?

* * *

I used to play the piano when I was a kid. I’ve dreamed of having a small piano at home, but my parents settled for a keyboard instead (which was, in the end, a good choice, because [1] I didn’t really play piano for long; and [2] having a piano during the Ondoy/Ketsana flood of 2009 would just be horrible), and I took several lessons on it. I liked it a lot, and I always thought the piano was a lovely instrument and I wanted to be able to play it more. Unfortunately, by fifth grade, I realized that I didn’t really have that much of a musical aptitude. I mean, I can play, I can read notes, but I didn’t really develop that ear for listening to music and being able to play it without sheets. (But wait, does that even exist?)

But either way, even if I don’t play the piano now, I still like it. And I really like reading books with musicians in them, whether they’re bands, or singers (or girlfriends of singers), or a band manager, even. Plus, The Lucy Variations is a Sara Zarr novel, and I love Sara Zarr.

Lucy Beck-Moreau is a piano-playing prodigy, the next great concert pianist that everyone’s buzzing about. Or was, until she walked out on a major recital after learning of a death in the family. After she walked out, the piano playing was left to her younger brother, Gus, to fulfill the family’s expectations. When her brother gets a new piano teacher who not just teaches him but encourages Lucy to try again, she wonders if it’s worth it, and if she could ever escape what her family — most especially her grandfather — would think if she decides to go back and play again.

The Lucy Variations felt just a little different from the other Sara Zarr novels I’ve read, what with Lucy being a bit of a more quiet, organized little musical genius who just wanted to be normal. At first, it was hard getting to know Lucy because she felt so closed off, even if I was basically in her head all the time. But eventually, she started showing more of herself, to understand how it is to be where she was, and how suffocated she felt with the pressure of her family in playing the piano. Lucy felt real — despite being a little detached — and I eventually started caring for what she cared about in the book, most especially her brother. I liked how she struggled not to play and when she played, she got lost in it, and I could see that she really loved it. Piano, the music, and making music. I think the only thing that really niggled me in Lucy is her attraction to older men — way older men, which was really something because she’s just sixteen. But perhaps it wasn’t really that kind of attraction, but more of seeking attention. She never had the chance to be around boys her age, at least ones who didn’t see her as competition.

The overall story was quiet, and maybe because of the music aspect, I felt like there was an accompanying background music to all of this while I was reading it. I liked The Lucy Variations, overall. Perhaps not as much as I liked Once Was Lost or How to Save a Life, but still good enough. I sort of called what happened near the end a few pages before it, and when it happened, I was secretly glad because I always felt there was something fishy about that character. And I liked how Lucy saw it later on, how she saw past the hurt and what had come out from it. I guess that is the best example of what “daring greatly” meant, as one of my favorite bloggers said in one blog post, how in the end, Lucy dared again, and it was what mattered: Because when was the last time she gave her whole heart to something? (p.291)

Number of dog-eared pages: 24

Favorite dog-eared quotes:

Sometimes, you should be allowed a tiny bit of joy that would stay with you for more than five minutes. That wasn’t too much to ask. To have a moment like this, and be able to hold onto it. (p. 78)

Adulthood is a perpetual state of confusion. (p. 182)

But what they’d done together, what had been opened by becoming so close, she could still love that. She could love their conversations and their hours at the piano and the results of their work. She could even love the way it hurt right now, because when was the last time she gave her whole heart to something? (p. 291)

That, all of it, belonged to her. She didn’t have to let Will take it away, the way she’s let her grandfather, the business, herself, take her love for music. She would hold on to what was her. Let go of what wasn’t. (p. 291)

Rating:

Required Reading: January

Other reviews:
Book Harbinger

Required Reading: February 2014 + January Recap

Hello, and happy February! How was your January? I hope it was filled with joy and lots of good books. :)

Before I go to the books I read in January, and the books I will read for February, let me talk about some things first. You know, for a change, to shake things up. :D

First off: the Bloggy Birthday Giveaway Winner!

I meant to announce this earlier, but life and work got in the way. Eeps, sorry about that! But thank you to everyone who greeted and left recommendations in my blog’s birthday post. You just made my wish list longer! :) Here are the recommendations:

  • From Goldie: I Want to Go Home by Gordon Korman, Airport by Arthur Hailey, Can You Keep a Secret by Sophie Kinsella, and The Awakening by Kate Chopin
  • From Maria: A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley
  • From Louize: The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  • From Bennard: Self-Help by Lorrie Moore
  • From Monique: Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • From Lynai: Hinds’ Feet in High Places by Hannah Hurnard
  • From Tin: Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis
  • From Chris: The Golem and the Jinni by Helene Wecker
  • From Kat: The Devil and Miss Prym by Paolo Coelho

Thanks so much for the recommendations! :) I will find a way to read all of sometime (probably not this year, but I will find a way :P). Thank you so much for the well-wishes for the blog, too.

And now the winner, thanks to random.org:

Chris

Yay, congrats, Chris! I will send you an email about this soon (and figure out what will go in the package :D).

Second: First Book Club Discussion for 2014 + Book Club Feature

Our book club had our first discussion for the year last January 18. We talked about The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, and we dared each other to read books. It was a fun afternoon, as always, except that my immune system gave in the middle of the discussion, so I started to get sick by the end of it. Massive headache, followed by my voice going away, perhaps as a sign not to speak! ^^;

TFG's F2F25 - Photo c/o Joy

TFG’s F2F25 – Photo c/o Joy

Thanks to everyone who attended, and thanks to The Appraisery in Cubao X for the venue! :)

Speaking of the book club, we were featured in Wanderrgirl! :)

TFG at Wanderrgirl

TFG at Wanderrgirl (And that photo there is so family-ish)

My friend Isa asked if I could write about the book club for Wanderrgirl last December, so of course I said yes. :) It was an absolute surprise to see it posted yesterday. Click here to read the entire post (and yes, I may have gone a bit sappy there :’) )!

Third: January Required Reading Recap

I did say that I read more in January, and true enough, I finished 8 books. 10, if you count the rereads. Of course, two of them were pretty short, but still. :) I was quite surprised that I finished two nonfiction books, too. And wrote a bit more reviews than I did in the past months. :D

  • History in English Words by Owen Barfield (3/5) – My first Barfield was an interesting reading experience. I promised I’d write a review, so I’ll save all other thoughts for that. :)
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman (5/5) – just as lovely as the first time.
  • Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown (4/5) – So, so powerful. This made me laugh, nod, and cry at so many parts.
  • The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr (4/5) – I really missed reading contemporary YA, and I’m so glad I had Sara Zarr to fall back on. Really liked this one. :)
  • Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews (3/5) – A fun romp back into Kate Daniels’ world. :)

I’ve managed to get ahead with my quantity reading goal, so I can sort of rest easy for a while. I think. :D

Fourth: February Required Reading

February 2014 Required Reading

And now we go to my February reading list! I used to always go for the love theme for February, but this year I sort of decided not to go too much into it. Oh, there’s still love in some of the books I will read, but I won’t go all sappy and read too many romance novels this time around. Like I said, just to shake things up a little. :)

feb2014books

  • The Zigzag Effect by Lili Wilkinson – I’ve tried to read this before in previous challenges but I never picked it up because I lagged behind from the other books. Oops. :D
  • Cathedral by Raymond Carver – Our book club is reading What We Talk About When We Talk About Love this month, but since I’ve already read that, I thought of picking up this book instead.
  • The History of Love by Nicole Krauss – And there’s my “love” book for February. I’ve heard rave reviews about this book from book club friends, so I’m pretty sure I will be in for a treat.

And there you go. This is quite a long post! I hope you all have a delightful, love-filled February. :)

2014 Reading Plan + January Required Reading

I meant to blog about this earlier, but I got too caught up in reading several books over the weekend that I sorta kinda forgot to blog. But better late than never! First off: HAPPY 2014, EVERYONE!

I’ve always liked New Year’s. One funny and surprising thing this year is I actually finished writing my 2014 goals hours before 2014 rolled around, and I suddenly felt so mature and on track for this year. So right now I’m declaring that 2014 will be a great year for me, for life in general and of course, for reading.

I think this year will be a little but busier than normal because I made some pretty huge commitments, so I will take it a little easier on the goals. Just a little, because I still want to be challenged, but I don’t want to be too challenged that it gets too pressuring. So, here we go, the 2014 reading goals:

52 Books

I set the same goal last year, and then I upped it to 75, and I almost didn’t make it. Oops! This year, I am sticking to 52 even if I reach half of it before July. Like I said, it’s going to be a bit busy this year, and 52 is a pretty manageable number. :)

3 Classics

I used to have a 5 classic books goal every year, but this time I’m trimming it to 3 because I never reach the 5! I mean, I did, but it was sort of cheating because I read children’s classic books. :D I’m going to set lower expectations and go for a lower number so I can read the other classics. I’m thinking it’s time to pick up another Austen (Sense & Sensibility, perhaps?) this year.

20 Filipino Books

I exceeded this goal last year, so this year it shouldn’t be too hard, right? I think I will try branching out from the contemporary romance genre and start reading those books that were assigned for Lit class in school back in college, just so I get to read some of them now without the school vibe over me. :D

I also realized that I hardly touched my print books last year because of Hannah the Kindle! So this year, I’m planning to read more print books and really get working on this TBR. I mean, I know I will still keep acquiring books, but it helps if I read some that I’ve had with me for years before I get more, right? Right? (It’s a good thing I only have like, 5 books that I really, really want to get this year. More on that on a later post. :D)

Other than that, I found that I also want to read a few more non-fiction this year, and (gasp) some financial books. I know, I’m surprised at this myself, but I’m not getting younger, and I realize it’s time to learn more about these grown-up things. :D

Of course Required Reading will still be here, which reminds me…

rr2014-01

I posted my January books on Instagram a few days back, and like I mentioned there, I always read more on January so I added a few books to the list. Of course one of them is a spillover from December and another is a reread, but that just gives me room to read more if I have time, right? :)

Books for January 2014

Books for January 2014

  • History in English Words by Owen Barfield – spillover from December, a book I’m reading as a favor to my good friend JL. 40 pages left!
  • The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman – Rereading this month for our book club’s January discussion
  • Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live, Love, Parent, and Lead by Brené Brown – I loved her TED videos, and I was so thrilled to get a copy of her book. Loving every bit of it so far. :)
  • The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr – some contemporary YA goodness from one of my favorite contemporary YA authors.
  • Gunmetal Magic by Ilona Andrews – because I missed Kate Daniels’ world and I want some good urban fantasy. It’s been a while since I read one.

And there you go. I’m tempted to make a reading list for the entire year, but I don’t want to be too strict on myself so I will just let myself pick whatever books I want to read every month for the next 12 months. Sounds like a good plan, yes? I can’t wait to discover more good books this year.

Have a happy 2014, friends, and happy reading!

 

 

2013 Must-Have Books

I almost forgot to come up with this list because of my recent sort-of blogging slump. Thank goodness for archives, though, because I checked my posts during January and found my 2012 Books I Can’t Wait to Get My Hands On list. In order to keep up with tradition, I am coming up with a list for 2013 so I can remember which books to pre-order for myself and use laser labels (assuming I have them, that is).

Besides, it’s fun writing this list.

Image from we heart it

Image from we heart it

And here we go.

Iscariot by Tosca Lee (February 5). I’ve heard of this book around…2009? Early 2010? And finally, it’s coming out. I am so, so excited for this. I loved Demon and Havah, and when I heard that Tosca is writing a book about Judas Iscariot, I knew I had to get it. I actually have a galley of this already, but I am so, so getting a print copy because it’s Tosca. And I’m pretty sure she’s going to tear my heart apart again with this one.

Iscariot by Tosca Lee

Continue Reading →

12 Best Books of 2012

So the 2012 reading year was interesting because I think this is the most I’ve explored different genres. I blame my book club for this, especially with our monthly discussions and their book recommendations. As a result, I didn’t reach the 150-ish book goal. However, I did enjoy exploring these other books that I wouldn’t normally read, so it’s still a pretty good year reading year.

I’ll talk about my reading stats more on another post. First, let’s get the best list out. 12 Best Books for 2012. Let’s get at it, shall we?

  1. Angelfall by Susan EeGruesome, creepy and scary but absolutely fun. I read this book because of all the good reviews I read from my Goodreads friends, and I devoured it in several days. I loved Penryn the kick-ass heroine and the equally bad-ass angels who caused the apocalypse. When is the sequel coming out again? Please make it soon?
    Angelfall by Susan Ee Continue Reading →