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A Minor: A Novel of Love, Music & Memory Paperback – June 1, 2014
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The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
"An emotional story...breaks the mold...delicately constructed...nuanced characters....clear prose." Kirkus Reviews
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This story was both heartwarming and heartbreaking. Two interwoven lives drive the tale: the student piano prodigy, who gets new wind into his sails when he meets a new teacher, and the teacher (a former prodigy), whose time is almost over and who gives everything she can for the student. I don't want to give spoilers, but you will cry when various events take place in both of their lives. You will learn about music and memory, and how music can help those whose memory may be failing. I'll bet you can still remember and sing a number of songs that you used to hear on the radio in your adolescence, and furthermore that your mind recalls the situation you were in when you heard them, such as being at a concert or sitting at the beach with a transistor radio (yes, I'm ancient) or making out in the car by the light of the FM transceiver (yes, the 1970s had their perks). The ways in which music may help people and build new brain connections are briefly mentioned, and you will want to research them once you finish reading this.
If your device is capable of playing the music files, you can listen to the piano works that the characters are playing as you read. My original Kindle couldn't do that, but when I went to the front matter of the book where all the pieces were listed, there was a music player that popped up, and I listened to them there. You'll be surprised if you think you don't know the pieces, because you probably DO; you've heard them in the background of films, cartoons, TV programs, and elevators. (LOL) You will want to download the free sheet music versions and play them, I guarantee. (There are many sites offering free sheet music to print--just be sure you get the versions that are not edited and therefore copyrighted.)
See also the interview with the author and the discussion questions that are included at the end of the text. Lots of extras with this one.
I can relate to the life of a pianist. At age eight I planned to attend Juilliard and worked every spare moment at perfecting my piano performance, but because I didn't start official lessons until that age--way too late, at least by the standards of the 1970s--and because my parents wouldn't support my pursuit (I attended an after-school freebie class instead of private lessons), I really never developed the chops. I still play classical music for myself and I play by ear as well (show tunes, pop, Christmas carols, ballads). If this describes you at all--or if you just wish you had the talent for music--you will love seeing the "inside track" of REAL piano people. The sacrifices musicians must make are parallel to the ones ballet dancers must make . . . no other extracurriculars, no sports to endanger your fingers (or toes, for dancers), hours of practice time. I also wrote about a gifted pianist with synaesthesia in LOVE IS THE BRIDGE by Denise Weeks, so I have never really left behind that childhood fantasy/dream. This book will take you there for real.
Young Jewish boys are declared men at 13, but at 16 Clive's life as a prodigious pianist is still tightly scripted by his famous maestro father. Clive is losing his passion for the discipline until he answers a classified ad at the town's conservatory and becomes the student of a new teacher.
Clare Cardiff, also once a piano prodigy, has fled her life as a world renowned concert pianist after her husband demands a divorce. She goes the only place she knows anyone--the quaint town in the Midwest where her sister lives. When Clive and Clare's paths cross, each is brought face to face with unexpected emotion that creates a fierce bond between them, but for different reasons.
This is a multi-layered story with unexpected developments and elements. Each character has a specific role to play in Clive's journey to determine for himself what he will do with the musical gift he has been given.
Kindle readers have the added pleasure of listening to selections of the music mentioned in the plot line as the story progresses.
A discussion guide for book clubs is also included, along with an interview with the author.
I was sad when this reading experience ended, and I hope this is not the last work of fiction from this author.
Most recent customer reviews
Shows how deep music goes into our psyche. Done!