I will start with a caveat : I don’t tend to read contemporary books.
Had it not been for the author, I would have probably not picked this book.
I am so glad I got to read it though and I am reminding myself to start expanding my reading horizons as I may find more gems such as this one.
So what is A Thousand Perfect Notes about you may ask. Let’s consult GoodReads first:
An emotionally charged story of music, abuse and, ultimately, hope.
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?
A Ten Thousand Perfect Notes includes some harrowing scenes of domestic abuse. It is a fairly brutal and dark story. But it is also a tale of hope. And that is what I loved about it. That contrast of light and darkness. If I had to describe this book in a sentence, I would use a saying of: “the darkest hour is just before dawn”.
The book starts with Beck telling us about all of his fears. I would perhaps personally preferred less information at the beginning to have a chance to slowly start working out the trauma of Beck’s situation throughout the book but it’s a personal preference and it did not impact how much I enjoyed the book in general at all.
Let’s have a look at the characters:
- Beck is a 15 year old pianist who doesn’t think he deserves a better life and who stays away from making any friends. He is also fiercely protective of his little 5 year old sister Joey. It would be easy to scream at him to change his situation. Fortunately, I never had to walk in his shoes and I feel so privileged because of that. The emotions Beck triggered in my were empathy and deep sorrow.
- Joey is a confident brave little sister. When we start getting glimpses of her character, we start appreciating what Beck has been doing for her and how strong he actually is.
- August is another 15 year old who cares about animals as well as the environment, and who likes to see the good in others and likes to help. She is kind, caring and compassionate.
And then there is Maestro.
A very important disclosure: by no means am I condoning any form of abuse. I feel very strongly against any form of violence and I want to make it crystal clear that I am not rooting for a character that is inflicting any sort of harm onto others.
With that said, I must admit I found her character interesting. She is this broken woman that had all her dreams shattered and who never got over that disappointment and is severely hurt. She is volatile, unpredictable and highly abusive.
Hurt people hurt people.
I did not cheer for her but I sort of felt almost sorry for her. Cait, you little devil!
Key messages I saw in this book are:
- Privilege. Not everyone has a privilege of growing up surrounded by loving families.
- Hope. It is possible to overcome abusive and difficult situations.
- Bravery. Being brave doesn’t always mean hitting back but rather keep on going with the mindset of: “I’ll try again tomorrow“.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes character driven books.
Young people should definitely read it as it may inspire them to overcome difficult situations as well as shed light on what privilege is about.
A terrific debut novel by C. G. Drews, I cannot wait to read her the next book already!
Possible triggers: domestic abuse and abuse in general.
I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, C. G. Drews, and the publisher, Hachette Children’s Group.