Sonata: A Memoir of Pain and the Piano

Andrea Avery. Pegasus, $27.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-68177-409-1
In 1989, at the age of 12, Avery was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. She was also a promising pianist. This excellent memoir illuminates both elements of her life with equal dignity and insight. Readers will gladly follow along as the author, now an English teacher in Phoenix, Ariz., recounts a detailed description of her symptoms, treatments, and the numerous medical procedures she endured. The memoir is also a love story to playing the piano, which Avery began when she was seven years old. The author notes she had a “few years’ grace” before the disease severely interfered with her playing. Her battle was both physical and psychological. After failing a piano exam, Avery explains, “I was fine with having arthritis myself, but for the first time I had infected the music. Now it was arthritic, too.” Avery delves into how her disease complicated the normal chaotic process of growing up, dating, sex, and college. She also deftly narrates the remarkable stories of Paul Wittgenstein, a one-armed pianist, and Franz Schubert, who composed his sonata in B-flat while dying from syphilis, revealing how she used these men’s stories and music as sources of inspiration. Her story offers inspiration, and education on building a beautiful and meaningful life even when what you love most slips away. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/13/2017
Release date: 05/01/2017
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 336 pages - 978-1-68177-473-2
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-1-68177-779-5
Show other formats
Discover what to read next