Gilbert (Stone Water, 1996, etc.) writes sympathetically about a musical prodigy who yearns to be a normal teenager; a story that could have easily fallen to clichÆ’ becomes a penetrating study of the difference between technical brilliance and true virtuosity. Clara Alexander Lorenzo has never really considered her parents' pronouncements that she must share her gifts with the world; suddenly, at 17, and a finalist in a competition that would assure her a full scholarship at Juilliard, she finds that the idea of becoming a concert pianist leaves her hollow. In this involving novel, the other characters are acutely drawn, each representing a part of Clara herself--Holly, her cheerleading best friend; Marshall, a committed pianist and intense love-interest; her parents, whose hopes and dreams are wrapped up in music; and Tashi, her gentle, guiding teacher, whose wisdom, perceptions, and stories of her sacrifices in her Russian homeland give Clara courage. Descriptive passages of playing are well-crafted, and Clara's doubts about the piano are effectively juxtaposed with her passion for ballet--she is not particularly adept, but it stirs something in her. The tension builds to the competition, ending with Clara's decision and small, unexpected gestures from the people she loves. A compassionate work.