TW – Abuse: mental and physical
‘What he wants most in the world is to cut off his hands.
At the wrist would be best. That hollow tiredness that stretches from fingertips to elbow would be gone forever.’
Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music – because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.
When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?
What I thought:
I found this a really strong and emotional read, something I definitely wasn’t expecting when I started it. Before I get into the deep things I just want to say that for some unknown reason I was surprised when it was about music. Honestly, it says in the titles ‘perfect notes’ and the synopsis mentions music, there are so many clues they aren’t even clues any more. But noooo. Somehow I read it and thought of handwritten notes.
It’s a really powerful book about obsession, love and abuse. Set in Australia, Beck’s life revolves around music, his mother, and his sister. His mother was once a world famous pianist and as she had to stop she is forcing her obsession/love onto her son. Beck has to rehearse for hours a day, and if he gets a note wrong he has to start from the beginning again. Beck regularly has the piano closed on his fingers because he wasn’t playing well enough. He is never good enough for his mother and has to listen to her constantly degrading him for not being good enough.
What’s really well done is it is clear from the beginning what kind of person and parent his mother is. Beck doesn’t refer to her as mum/mother or any variation of it, instead she demands to be referred to as Maestro. It says that her role of mother is less important than his music teacher. It shows where her priorities lie and how little she thinks of Beck as a person outside of her passion
This book perfectly encapsulated what it means to both hate and love something (music) and someone (his mother). Because these two things aren’t the opposite of each other. Their opposite is indifference, and Beck finds it impossible to be indifferent. No matter how much he tries he still gets his hopes up, that if he can just get enough rehearsal in, that if he can just play the piece perfectly his mother will say well done. But instead of being praised for excellence it’s expected and taken as par of the course. Beck hates playing the classical music his mother orders him to practice and instead wants to be focusing on making his own. He hates that music in general has a hold over him for fear that it links him back to his mother.
But through all of it, and even before he meets August, Beck has someone who can help him through the darkness and can make him smile. His little sister. It jumps off the page just how much Beck loves her and would do anything to keep her safe and protected. A lot of the time he weathers the abuse because his mother has promised him that she won’t treat Joey the same way. Joey is a brilliant and lively little girl who finds joy in everything, her excitement in the world made me smile and grin.
August is a really interesting character in how she gently pokes her way into Beck’s life and through the wall that he puts up around his heart and life. She gently niggles her way in, making Beck smile and giving him a life away from the piano. I loved the relationship she had with her family.
Her friendship with Beck seems real, August is clearly the kind of person who wants to fix things/animals/people and doesn’t accept that they don’t want it.
Why I read it:
I enjoy reading the Author’s twitter (@PaperFury) about silly things book bloggers and book lovers do .When I saw her starting the promotion for her book I got very excited and put it on pre-order so I could have it as soon as possible.
It’s a really powerful book about obsession, love and abuse. The abuse is written really well, in a powerful way but also delicately done. Beck’s situation hurts and you want him to succeed and get out of his situation but also to have his mother be a mother for him. You hope with him when he gets his hopes up and feel just as dashed as him when they fall through. The relationship he has with his mother and with music is a beautifully complex one, but the best relationship by far is the one between him and his sister. I love how much he looks after his little sister and how much he is willing to go through if it keeps her safe.
Also I nearly burst into tears at Gatwick while waiting for my train but it probably wasn’t helped by having just started a new job and the entirely new timetable.
The more this story continues to unfold the more your heart will hurt, but the moments of happiness (with Joey and August) are as bright as the sun.
Would I recommend? YES! Providing you’re ok with the topic then this is one I think all contemporary YA lovers should read.
Popsugar: Published in 2018
Once again I missed again – chronic illness and fatigue suck – but I’m still writing what I can when I can.
I’ve also decided that for NaNo this year instead of aiming for the 50k on one story I’m going to do a blog a day. Writing 50k of story just isn’t feasible this year with everything that I’ve got going on (holidays and Guiding events) so a blog a day will do. It’s still a writing project, just a different type of writing. It will also mean that I can finally close the gap between my reading list and blog list. (Current book is due up at the end of October/November)
Anyway, I hope you guys are all doing well and that you’ve read this book or are going to read this book.
Please leave a comment and enjoy the turning of the season. From summer to autumn or from winter to spring depending on where you live.
P.S The next book is ‘Wolf Unleashed’ by Jessica Meats – equal rites for werewolves!