Publisher's Note:  

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?

National Book Award finalist Sara Zarr takes readers inside one girl's struggle to reclaim her love of music and herself. To find joy again, even when things don't go according to plan. Because life isn't a performance, and everyone deserves the chance to make a few mistakes along the way.

The Lucy Variations

by Sara Zarr

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Overall Review:  

Lucy Beck-Moreau feels like a failure--not only to her family and friends, but to herself and her fans. At one time, she was a well-known pianist; but after a tragedy that leaves her heartbroken and unsure of her place in life, she has stopped playing. She doesn't know why she can't play, but something is stopping her--something inside her. And so, she watches as those around her live their lives, with futures intact and minds clear. She used to know what her purpose was, and who she would be. Now she is lost, confused, and above all--missing the feeling of ivory beneath her fingers. When an opportunity to fill the hole in her heart arises, Lucy knows she can't pass it up. This decision could change her whole life, and her family's lives, but it is a risk she has to take.


Author Sara Zarr has a talent for knowing exactly what a teen girl would be thinking and feeling in the situations she writes about. I have never met a book by her that I didn't adore. This one is no different, and even though the main character is a teenage girl, boys (especially musical ones) might find themselves pleasantly surprised at how well they can relate to this story.

Content Analysis:  

Profanity/Language:  9 religious exclamations; 5 mild obscenities; 1 derogatory name; 2 anatomical terms.


Violence/Gore:  Characters die of natural causes in separate scenes, both of which are emotionally distressing to another character.


Sex/Nudity:  Kisses are exchanged between a teen girl and her piano teacher, who is a middle-aged man and married; a teen girl has a slightly inappropriate relationship with two of her teachers, nothing sexual transpires between them except for one kiss on the cheek; a husband cheats on his wife.

Mature Subject Matter:  

Death, mature relationships.

Alcohol / Drug Use:  

Adults and minors drink; minors are encouraged to drink wine; a minor drinks wine and gets drunk, resulting in a hangover the next day.

Reviewed By Lydia
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