This post contains affiliate links you can use to purchase the book. If you buy the book using that link, I will receive a small commission from the sale.A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews
Published by Orchard Books on June 7, 2018
Genres: Young Adult
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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
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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