“An emotionally charged story of music, abuse and, ultimately, hope.”
Why did I ever think that the main character was a writer at first? Was it due to the title? Or just because I’m too quote obsessed and my tunnel vision caused me to miss the synopsis of the book? Whatever it was I was in for a surprise when I started the book. The only notes the main character had were those in his head and at the tips of his fingers…
One thing about this book, it made me want to write notes oddly enough. To make up for that blunder I think. This review started off as draft notes in my phone. Adding a little bit to it every time I thought of something to say which is very unusual for me, usually I just do it in one sitting. Now I’m discovering how useful it is in sorting thoughts for a post.
“Every day is a Monday. A perpetual string of Mondays.”
First of all, I love the way the author writes! I first knew about C.G. Drews from her blog Paper Fury and then her totally relatable bookworm tweets and now this beautiful book… Simply put, it’s like a thousand perfect quotes waiting to be read.
I love how the narrative flowed so smoothly and naturally through the thoughts and musings of the main character, and how he introduced us to his very own personal hell. Then and only then I found out he was a pianist.
Basically, it’s about a boy and his abusive mother who forces him to play to perfection when what he only ever wanted was to play his own music. Then he met a girl who brought the sun into his life… and sweets and lots and lots of cake.
Two chapters in and I felt a vague sense of familiarity with the story. It’s hitting me with Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April) vibes. Strict mother, piano prison, metronome existence, and then a girl full of life came intruding into his world.
This book is about a composer’s soul crying out from the shackles of the Maestro who also happens to be his mother. It’s painful, miserable, and frustrating as hell. The injustice and unfairness of his situation will make you want to cheer him on, but not too loud because he might flinch. That’s how bad he’s been broken by his own mother. He has become withdrawn, full of bitterness and negativity. He’s trapped in his head much like his music and his notes. His mother demanding perfection and for him to be just like her in her glory days.
I felt the most profound sadness for a character than I have ever felt before. To be scared of the woman who gave birth to you is a tragedy, and to have her crush your soul for her own misguided intentions.. How soulless can the Maestro be. There are so many triggers of violence, abuse and imaginings of self-harm here that some readers may not necessarily like it but it helped us understand the depth of Beck’s warring feelings for the piano and his music.
Somehow the author manages to put you in the main character’s shoes. His ratty, duck-taped dirty shoes. It’s a testament to how well written it is to make you feel so in sync with Beck. The only positive emotion he possesses was for his sister Joey and even that was tainted by the underlying threat that their mother would do the same to her. His world soon came to life with the appearance of a girl who only seem to know happiness.
“Why do you smell like coffee?”
“I love it so much I wear it.”
August is sunshine, carefree, happiness and righteousness in one sweet warm package. She reminds me of Juli Baker from Flipped. Full of justified rage against the unfairness and injustice around her. I adore her. She’s witty and easy-going during her first encounter with Beck. I thoroughly enjoyed their banter at first encounter so much! The snarkiness and sarcasm, the witty comebacks on both sides and the dark humor from Beck.
Not even halfway through and I already shed tears. It was heartbreaking to hear Beck’s thoughts and feel it hit so close to home. That part where they went cake hunting and Beck just “…drowns in the suffocating knowledge that someone notices. And cares.”
“Maybe this is why August is so happy. Cake! And coffee – well, um, whatever-it-was! On a regular basis.” (Beck about August)
The author never spoon fed with facts. It flows naturally. It’ll make you curious about the characters and will basically command you to read closely as not to miss details surrounding their situation. What happened to the Maestro? Why doesn’t she play? How old exactly is the spitfire sister? How much cake is too much cake?
But she did spoil us with sweets. From cakes, to chocolates, and marshmallow references. Maybe to make up for all the bitterness of that purposely spilled coffee. Literally and metaphorically speaking.
If I were to choose my favorite parts in the book, there’s the family banter between the Freys and their house turned zoo. But what ultimately took the cake was those scenes where Beck plays the piano. C.G. Drews writes it so beautifully I could almost hear the music lifting off from the pages. I thought it was a one-off with Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso (Your Lie in April) manga when I cried about someone playing the piano and I could not even hear it because I was reading it! I think it just goes to show how one can be moved by a story with how deeply you can connect with the characters.
I never once put it down. Much like Beck who couldn’t stop playing even when it hurt him. This book is just torture. Sweet, sweet torture.
It felt like my heart was being constantly ripped out again and again reading this book and the only thing that will soothe me is the end. But getting to the last page, I was not soothed at all. The ending came too soon and my heart broke all over again.
To end this post, here’s me trying to speak the author’s language or at least her style of writing: A thousand tiny tears kept spilling. The sound of my sniffles my only companion.
P.S. I need a chocolate cake to replenish.