Having publicly abandoned a promising piano career after her grandmother died while Lucy Beck-Moreau was a continent away preparing to perform, the 16-year-old struggles to figure out the place of music in her life apart from her family’s expectations.
What makes Lucy’s story especially appealing is the very realistic way this “entitled brat” (as grandfather called her) acts out as she experiments with new identities. Prone to adolescent crushes, she obsesses about an English teacher, impulsively kisses a serviceman met in a candy shop and falls hard for her brother’s new piano teacher, Will Devi. Lucy is impressively privileged: Old family money makes it possible for her to wear expensive clothes and attend an exclusive school; the family housekeeper provides important support. She also hurts. As the book opens, eight months after the death of the grandmother she still misses, she’s futilely performing CPR on her brother’s former teacher, dead of a stroke in the middle of a piano lesson. The third-person narration focuses entirely on Lucy but allows readers enough distance to help them understand her behavior in ways Lucy cannot. Occasional flashbacks fill out the back story.
The combination of sympathetic main character and unusual social and cultural world makes this satisfying coming-of-age story stand out. (Fiction. 12-18)