Review: The Lucy Variations, by Sara Zarr

18295824The Lucy Variations, by Sara Zarr

Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary

Rating: ✮✮

Music, her grandfather always told her, was language. A special language, a gift from the Muses, something all people are born understanding but few people could thoroughly translate.

Contemporaries are not known to be full of plot and action. As such, when I read them I usually look for humor, or something to make me smile. Even for a contemporary, though, The Lucy Variations is so…skimpy.

If I were to make a list of what happens in this book, it would go like this:

  1. Lucy’s grandmother dies and she stops playing the piano.
  2. Lucy’s brother gets a new piano teacher and Lucy gets the hots for him.
  3. Lucy decides she wants to go to music school and starts playing again.
  4. The end.

There’s some family and friendship drama in between, but for the most part, that’s it. Most of the story feels like it’s in fragments, cut-and-pasted together instead of one flowing, continuous line. I would say unless you’re really into classical music, you would find The Lucy Variations very, very boring. I like classical and instrumental music a lot, but I can’t rattle off composers off the top of my head. So, a lot of what Lucy talks about with Will sounds like…gibberish.

Though Lucy wasn’t an insufferable heroine, she kind of creeped me out. It’s not that she has a thing for older men—I get that, in a way, as long as statutory rape laws are not broken—it’s when she stole Will’s nail clippers that kind of made me pause.

            Voices in the hall again made her jump. Lucy grabbed the clippers and shoved them into her jeans pocket, then pretended to be looking for her coat on the bed.

She goes to his (and his wife’s) house for a party, searches their room, and then takes his nail clippers. Come on. That is majorly creepy. He clips his toenails with those things!

This is supposed to be a story about reclaiming what you love and finding joy in life, but honestly, I don’t think it’s deep enough for that. It’s about a girl who loves playing the piano and decides she wants to play again, and that’s nice, but not very poignant. If someone asked me for a deep, thoughtful book with classical music, I would choose Gayle Forman’s If I Stay a million times over this one.


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