Family, piano, and expectations in A Thousand Perfect Notes


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Family, piano, and expectations in A Thousand Perfect NotesA Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews
Published by Orchard Books on June 7, 2018
Genres: Young Adult
Pages: 282
Format: Paperback
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It’s hard to live up to your parent’s expectations. And even harder when your mother is a once-famous pianist who expects you to continue her legacy.

Beck is 15 and lives with his mother and five year-old sister. He doesn’t know his father. His sister’s father isn’t around either. He doesn’t have any friends. Friends are forbidden. So is homework. They take time away from Beck’s piano practice time. And he needs to practice to be the best concert pianist, as his mother demands he be. The problem is that Beck doesn’t want to be a concert pianist. He wants to compose music, but his mother only lets him play classical pieces, and beats him if he doesn’t play well enough.

A Thousand Perfect Notes is CG Drews’ first novel and another of my recent reads that leaves me with a mix of emotions, both happy and sad. I started following her blog, Paper Fury before I knew she had a soon-to-be-published novel, but I never expected anything as powerful as this. The story is brutal. Cait’s writing describes all the emotions. I felt Beck’s fear when he was partnered with August for the school assignment that he knew he wouldn’t be allowed time to

A blue budgie
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

complete. Then his bewilderment when he realized he wanted to reciprocate August’s friendship (his first friend). And his frustration at his mother projecting her lost career on him. Also, his annoyance because he couldn’t walk away because he was protecting his sister. I cried during the start of chapter 15 and laughed through my tears at the blue budgie in August’s menagerie. My first pet was a blue budgie.

While very few are former concert pianists, many live with mental illness. The Young Adult genre is beautifully portraying this element of life and teaching us all that you’re not alone. Either as the person with the illness or, here in A Thousand Perfect Notes, a family member.

I feel I’m concentrating too much on the abuse and missing Beck and August’s gorgeous friendship and fleeting first love. Beck’s little sister, Joey, is a small hurricane. She’s suspended from pre-school after escalating violent behavior. Probably would have been for swearing too, if the teacher understood German. But Joey was mirroring her mother’s actions. But Joey’s love for Beck won me over. She was making his meals from whatever food was left for them: uncooked rice and peanut butter.

There’s only one weakness in the story, but it’s pivotal to the end, so I can’t mention too much of Beck following his namesake. I can see why Cait included it, but it didn’t feel right to me.

I recommend A Thousand Perfect Notes to be read with a tissue box and chocolate beetroot cake at the ready.


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Photo by James Zwadlo on Unsplash

Beck\'s mom wants him to be a world-famous pianist, at any cost. A Thousand Perfect Notes by CG Drews is a heart-breaking but inspiring story of family, friendship, ambitions, and mental illness.  #AThousandPerfectNotes #CGDrews #PaperFury #YABooks #BookReview #MassConsternation

More about Bianca

Bianca Smith lives in the cold and occasionally snowy Pacific Northwest - and she loves it. She's adventuring life in her adopted country and blogging along the way. Currently, she's in Melbourne, Australia working with a microfinance nonprofit and studying for an Executive MBA degree.

One thought on “Family, piano, and expectations in A Thousand Perfect Notes

  1. Christine

    I read this post this AM (I want to say from Tailwind Tribes) when I was pinning to my boards. I instantly recognized the cover from C.G. Drews. I love Paper Fury too! I knew from her blog that she was an amazing writer. I can’t wait to track down a copy of this title. P.S. Chocolate beetroot really sounds delicious.

    I’ve seen your blog a gazillion times on Pinterest, and I always meant to tell you how pretty and ‘clean’ it is—it’s so well organized and easy to read!

    Christine @ The Uncorked Librarian


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