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May 08, 2013

Review: The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr

Title: The Lucy Variations
Author: Sara Zarr
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication date: May 7, 2013
Genre(s): Young Adult (Contemporary)
Source: Publisher (HBG Canada)
Format: ARC
Pages: 320
Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. The right people knew her name, her performances were booked months in advance, and her future seemed certain.

That was all before she turned fourteen.

Now, at sixteen, it's over. A death, and a betrayal, led her to walk away. That leaves her talented ten-year-old brother, Gus, to shoulder the full weight of the Beck-Moreau family expectations. Then Gus gets a new piano teacher who is young, kind, and interested in helping Lucy rekindle her love of piano -- on her own terms. But when you're used to performing for sold-out audiences and world-famous critics, can you ever learn to play just for yourself?
After reading How to Save a Life, I became a fan of Sara Zarr's writing. Sara Zarr writes contemporary novels, but they are usually more on the "realistic fiction" side. Lucy is not your typical teenager. She had her future all planned out as a professional pianist. She was home-schooled, a full time pianist, and there was extreme pressure on her. There was a certain incident that made Lucy want to leave it all behind. Now that the pressure isn't on her anymore, it's all on her younger brother, Gus. Sara Zarr portrayed a perfectionist family spot on. This book was more about the family pressure that many teenagers go through, instead of the romance in most contemporary novels.
Lucy was a very interesting character to read about. A lot of teenagers who go through that stuff would probably be able to relate to her very well. I liked that she wasn't the type who would just let other be in control of what she wants to do. I liked how she took matters into her own hands, and that she made her own decision despite the consequences. One day, Gus's tutor suffers a heart attack and dies. Lucy's grandfather starts searching for a new one piano teacher, and that's when they decide to hire Will. Lucy then starts developing a relationship with him, and not that type of relationship, but more of that teacher/friend relationship with a cute teacher. There's not much to say about the story without spoiling it, but it just revolves around family problems and the pressure that some parents put on their children.
Overall, The Lucy Variations took a different direction into contemporary novels. It was refreshing to read a book that is talking about family, rather that the typical romance. Though I have to admit, maybe adding a little bit romance would have been nice. Anyhow, I really enjoyed reading this, and would recommend it to anyone who would look past the "no romance" aspect of the book. Once again, Sara Zarr did not disappoint me, and I will definitely be looking forward to her next book.
Other books by Sara Zarr:


  1. I think it's nice to read a contemporary book with no romance once in a while. It's become almost necessary in them, and I don't think it needs to be. Don't get me wrong, I love a good swoony romance, but not having one is a good thing sometimes. This sounds like a fabulous book. Great review!

  2. I haven't read anything from this author, but this story sounds really good and I like books about musicians. Great review.

  3. I remember reading Sweethearts by Sara Zarr and really enjoying it. I think it's great that Zarr is trying a contemp without much of a romance! I'm totally interested in reading about family pressure because I could probably relate. Thanks for the lovely review, Juhina!

  4. I have a copy of this book and now can't wait to started on it after your praising review Farah. I absolutely adored How to Save a Life too, so can't wait to see the different direction that Zarr goes with this one. Lovely review! :)

  5. I always like my books to have a little bit of romance :) But this does sound awesome! And I finally have a copy of How to Save a Life, so I can't wait to read it! Awesome review :)

    Janina @ Synchonized Reading

  6. You're right, it is always refreshing when the emphasis is on family (and not romance). I've heard mixed things about this particular book, but I've heard GREAT things about Sara Zarr as an author, so I'm still curious. I'm really glad you enjoyed it, Farah! Awesome review. :)

  7. I've seen mixed reviews for this one, but I'm thrilled you enjoyed this so much! I can't wait to start it soon! :D

  8. I loved this one. And I like to think that it helped Lucy get her head together and set her up for a romance in the future .. maybe with Carson…

    You can find me here: Jen @ YA Romantics

  9. This sounds refreshing, and I like that the story focuses more on family and not so much on romance. Thanks for sharing!

  10. I am really going to have to find this one. I grew up taking several different types of dance classes and piano, so I think I could relate to Lucy. Great review.

    Jenea @ Books Live Forever

  11. I like my books with romance, but this does sound like a wonderful story with a strong main character. Great review, Farah. :)

  12. This is another on my pile for this month and sounds like one I should not skip. I haven't Sara's books yet but this sounds great to me and I love that its about family. Wonderful review! I'm excited to read it now!

  13. I haven't read any of the author's books but I love realistic fiction, so I'm going to keep an eye out on this one for sure. Amazing review, Farah! :)

    Sarika @ The Readdicts