Rating: 4 stars
“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?”
I was extremely lucky to receive an Advanced Readers Copy of this book from Orchard Books in exchange for an honest review.
This book has such an interesting premise, there aren’t many YA books that I have come across that follow people studying classical music. I studied classical music to quite a high level throughout my teenage years, and knew a lot of people who competed in competitions very similar to those mentioned throughout this book, so I absolutely loved reading about something I am very familar with.
I loved the characters in this book, they felt quite well devleoped although slightly stereotypical in some ways. The only character who felt contrived was August, I still loved her as a charcter but she didn’t feel completely realistic, she felt a little like a ploy so as to have someone for Beck to befriend. I think everything could have worked just as well without her character being quite so drastic.
Beck was a really amazing character and I loved his outlook. I have known people in bad situations (although nowhere near as bad as Beck’s) and it always amazes me when they are the most positive and loving people, and honestly I find it quite inspiring, so I found it interesting to see the internal monologue which might accompany this behaviour. I also absolutely loved his relationship with Joey! It was absolutely adorable and the epitome of the protective older brother, but she still managed to annoy him and he was sometimes a (loving) jerk to her, just like older brothers should be!
The plot was really great, although it felt a little formulaic! Obviously this book did need an ending but I feel like it also could have worked as a slice of life kind of story, instead of a beginning/middle/end structure as this was much more. But either way I got extremely invested in this story and it definitely kept me reading! I read it in less than 24 hours after recieving it and in only two sittings! This is something that happens very very rarely for me with books, so that is a pretty good indication that it was gripping and I was definitely engrossed.
I think it was really great to have a YA book deal with such diffcult issues in such a visual way. It wasn’t implied what was going on, there was nothing hidden, everything was out there and I think that really showed the reality of a situation like this. Also being inside Beck’s head and seeing how negative his thoughts were etc really added to the narrative, it made it a lot harder to read but this isn’t meant to an easy, fluffy read (although there are definitely moments of fluff, but there’s nothing wrong with that!).
One complaint I have with this book is the romance! I liked the romance and thought it evolved really naturally and sweetly but I am just not sure it is necessary! I feel like the exact same story and feeling could have been achieved with Beck and August just remaining friends, and I actually think it could have been more poignant! I sometimes feel like romance is put in soley for the sake of having it there, and sadly this was one of those times! However I did still love their romance and of course was rooting for it throughout because it was insanely cute!
Overall I would recommend this book to pretty much anyone who wants a hard-hitting contemporary read that is pretty quick to get through but also deals with a lot of big issues in that short time! I would put a trigger warning on this for abuse though, as obviously that is a pretty big aspect of this book, so just be aware of that if you choose to pick this up!
– Maddie Browse