“…the stagnant silence while he gropes for music, the failure, strangling him.”
This book by C. G. Drews was the first book of two so far written by the Australian author, and it is heartbreakingly amazing. The book follows a young fifteen year old pianist named Beethoven ‘Beck’ Keverich, who struggles with a hate/love relationship with the piano his mother has forced him to play most of his life. His mother herself had been a famous pianist in her youth, but unfortunately had a stroke not too long after Beck was born and she can no longer able to play. With her own dreams gone, she pushes them onto Beck. She expects him to be perfect every step of the way, and is never satisfied with him, while all Beck wants is to be able to play the music that writes itself in his head.
Then Beck officially meets August Frey, a wild girl with quirky tendencies and a gigantic heart for all things broken. Beck, of course, does not want to have a friend, has never needed a friend in his mind, because no matter what, the piano always comes first. August does not let him just let him continue to be miserable though, and soon enough, Beck starts to feel more than the cold life he’s been surrounded by.
“He hates how innocent her face is, how her lips are twisted in a quiet smile, how her breath puffs in globes of cold white. He hates it because she is hope and tomorrow and he’s goodbye and the end.”
Beck himself, throughout the book, constantly thinks that he is worthless because that is what he has been told, always. Even his younger sister, Joey, will call him dumb or a moron just from learning through their mother. Other than her fowl mouth and somewhat violent outbursts, their sibling love is so pure and precious, even with Joey being too young to understand all the pain Beck goes through.
All around, this book is absolutely freaking amazing. My heart hurt literally every time I picked it up, though it was always a mixture of good and bad hurting. So much preciousness, so much love and wonderment and self discovery. I gave this a 5 star rating on Goodreads and I definitely recommend putting it towards the top of your TBR list!
“But the pieces? The Bach, the Schumann, the Chopin-every time he tries to play them, the notes blur and he has to scrub knuckles over his scalp in nervous agony. Because he sees-the thrum of the audience, the molten fury on the Maestro’s face…”
My own personal battles with music:
I played piano from the age of seven until I was about twenty-two. Throughout the story, Beck constantly feels like he is a failure, that his playing is so bad he literally wants to chop off his hands. Though I never personally hated the piano, I definitely hated myself and anytime I messed up during a performance. Beck is physically, verbally, and mentally abused by his mother, thinks of himself as nothing, and though I was never physically abused I always thought my family was disappointed in me and thought of me as a failure.
When it came to my playing, I would constantly get nervous to play in front of people, because if I messed up than what was all that hard work even for? All the time and money spent into this would be a waste. In reality, my family was proud, and no one really notices mistakes unless they know the song well.
I related to Beck and his mental thinking throughout the majority of the book because I remembered being in those mental shoes growing up. But making mistakes isn’t the end of the world, it doesn’t mean everyone will be disappointed or hate you, it just means we still have growing to do and that’s not a bad thing.
“You feel-um, judged-when you play?” Beck follows him [his uncle] between rows of paintings.
“Absolutely,” Jan says. “I often lose myself in a piece, but other times? Keine Beziegung.” No connection. His tone is factual. “Often an inexperienced audience cannot tell. Let us hope, though, that you and I both feel the music this evening. Passion is more important than perfection.”
Five Perfect Notes That Made Me Love This Book
- The sibling loves is just to die for. I love how much Beck cares for Joey, and though Joey doesn’t always understand everything, she loves Beck with her whole little being. The sibling banter is A++.
- The imagery that Beck has while thinking, whether grotesque or not, is just *chef’s kiss* so freaking good.
- August is the best. She’s so kind, and ridiculous, and entertaining. The more you learn about her, the more you just want her to be your best friend too.
- Although this book is full of depressing moments, the depth of it is so extraordinary. The pressures that can be put on people to be the best, the abuse that can come with failing, and the aftermath of poor decision making and being so driven you lose sight of what’s truly important. So. Good.
- The ending. Though is wasn’t what I personally wanted or really expected for Beck, it was what was best for him and Joey. I won’t say what happens, you’ll have to read it for yourself to find out!
An emotionally charged story about the power of dreams, and how passion can turn to obsession. 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 that 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 with him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?