cover image The Lucy Variations

The Lucy Variations

Sara Zarr. Little, Brown, $18 (320p) ISBN 978-0-316-20501-6

Zarr (How to Save a Life) doesn’t waste a word in this superb study of a young musical prodigy trying to reclaim her life. Sixteen-year-old Lucy Beck-Moreau has led a privileged and extremely focused life in San Francisco as a renowned pianist. Her mother and grandfather have provided her with the best teacher money can buy and ensured that she has entered the most prestigious competitions. But when Lucy refuses to perform in Prague after hearing her grandmother has just died, her career unravels. She retreats into the shadows, letting her talented younger brother, Gus, take center stage. After the arrival of Will, her brother’s vibrant new instructor, Lucy begins to reconsider her decision to stop playing piano. Like every teenager, Lucy has moments of self-doubt, self-centeredness, regret, infatuation, and humiliation. This multifaceted characterization makes her a deeply real and sympathetic character, and that dimensionality extends to the rest of the cast. The pressures Lucy is under feel powerful, immediate, and true—her journey of self-discovery will strike a profound chord with readers. Ages 12–up. Agent: Michael Bourret, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management. (May)