- Hardcover: 320 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers; First Edition edition (May 7, 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 9780316205016
- ISBN-13: 978-0316205016
- ASIN: 031620501X
- Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 8.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 45 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,223,821 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Lucy Variations Hardcover – May 7, 2013
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*Starred Review* Pressure, expectation, the responsibility of “proving to the world and yourself that you weren’t just taking up space.” This has been privileged San Franciscan Lucy Beck-Moreau’s childhood as a renowned concert pianist. But after a family betrayal eight months ago, the 16-year-old walked off the stage in Prague, and her controlling grandfather’s words haunt her: “I take this as your final decision, Lucy.” Now, though, Lucy’s talented pianist brother, Gus, has a new teacher, Will, and he has taken a special interest in Lucy, asking her questions such as “What do you love?” and encouraging her to find the fun in music again. As she and Will grow closer, their relationship begins to cross lines, and she eventually wonders if Will has her best intentions at heart—a question that’s perhaps not fleshed out enough in the novel’s end. But Zarr (Story of a Girl, 2007) does what she does best. Writing in the third person, she really, truly gets inside her characters’ minds and shows us what makes them complex human beings—their faults, fears, and hopes. The supporting characters, from best friend Reyna to English teacher Mr. Charles, are also deeply drawn, and each provides insight as Lucy searches for her own sense of self. The novel itself is structured like a musical composition with three movements of varying tempos and the occasional intermezzo. This is a mellifluous novel about rekindling joy—in music, in the everyday, and in the beauty around us. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Zarr’s Story of a Girl was a National Book Award finalist, and her books are consistently met with multiple starred reviews. A national author tour kicks off the publication of her latest. Grades 9-12. --Ann Kelley
"An elegant novel...Zarr vividly develops the title character, illuminating Lucy's teenage insecurities, her close and fractious friendships and the coming-of-age realization that she can pursue her dreams on her own terms...A rewarding journey for readers."―The New York Times Book Review
"This book has so much depth and character that it stays with you like actual memories. I love how Sara Zarr can make you laugh and cry on the same page, and I think this is her best book yet."―James Dashner, New York Times bestselling author of The Maze Runner (Metro New York)
* "[Zarr] really, truly gets inside her characters' minds and shows us what makes them complex human beings -- their faults, fears, and hopes...This is a mellifluous novel about rekindling joy -- in music, in the everyday, and in the beauty around us."―Booklist, starred review
* "Zarr doesn't waste a word in this superb study of a young musical prodigy trying to reclaim her life....[Lucy is] a deeply real and sympathetic character, and that dimensionality extends to the rest of the cast. The pressures Lucy is under feels powerful, immediate, and true -- her journey of self-discovery will strike a profound chord with readers."―Publishers Weekly, starred review
* "The combination of sympathetic main character and unusual social and cultural world makes this satisfying coming-of-age story stand out."―Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* "Exploring relationships is where Zarr soars . . . This strong coming-of-age story about music, passion, and the search for identity will appeal to longtime fans of Zarr's work and newcomers alike."―SLJ, starred review
"A satisfying coming-of-age story and a thoughtful treatise on art, identity, and personal fulfillment."―The Horn Book
"[A] gripping YA novel about a 16-year-old music prodigy trying to survive the cutthroat world of piano competitions."―InStyle
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What would it be like to grow up as one, how would that change you?
The main character has lived through that. Lucy is such an adult in many ways and such a child in others, probably because she had a career as a world renowned pianist at a very young age but at the same time, her life was so controlled, her choices not her own that when she's left to her own devices, she's a bit of a mess. She skips school, is late to class, has inappropriate crushes. Lucy is not an easy character to like. Some of her decisions, well, you might not agree with them, but you can always see where she's coming from and that's the marking of a well developed character.
It's a classic coming of age story for a character that's quite grown up in some ways and not at all in others.
The downside: the book takes a while to build up and then in the last 20 pages or so everything seems to happen. I would have liked those last 20 pages to take some more space.
Oh Sara Zarr how you take ordinary words and make each one feel important and needed. Words should throw you a freaking parade!
I was lucky enough to attend the launch party of The Lucy Variations and was able to hear Sara share the very personal story of how this book came into being. She is an exceptional speaker because she speaks like she writes. Open, honest, and with heart.
The first time I met Sara, she was in the process of writing this book. She shared how she chose to write in third person and how she was already deciding that this might be the big flop of her career. I don't normally like third person but had just read and loved The Probability of Miracles which is a very well done third person YA book, so I knew it could be done well and I kind of assumed Sara Zarr could do it.
This book is so stinking beautiful and it makes you ask so many questions about your own life. My favorite question asked in the book is: What do you love? Because what we really truly love is life itself. One thing I love? Sara Zarr's simple, perfect prose. And how she seems to makes her stories seem effortless even though you know her whole heart and soul went into the pages...the very opposite of effortless.
Has a teeny tiny bit of swearing, but is noticeably clean.
The third-person POV surprised me at first, but it was exactly right. I'm glad Zarr chose it. And Lucy's feelings for the older men in her life made complete sense, given the world she's moved in all her life. Will's early feelings for Lucy, too, were simply a grasping for something he'd been deprived of as a prodigy himself. It was the child artist recognizing the child artist. Also, well done, on the depiction of an English teacher we all wish we could have. Mr. Charles's wisdom in handling Lucy's complicated existence was heroic.
I love that Lucy behaved so well when she came to the realization that all was not as it seemed with the people in her life. She extended a grace to them that had never truly been extended to her, and she showed her heart. Mostly, though, I loved that this girl, who had witnessed some of the most beautiful things in the world--famous musicians, famous cities, the beauty of art--could admit to herself that it was only by slowing down and really engaging that she was able to see true beauty.
"Life was . . . good. And beautiful. And Lucy felt beautiful in it."