Review Blog

Jun 21 2018

A thousand perfect notes by C.G. Drews

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Orchard Books, 2018. ISBN 9781408349908
(Age: 13+) Recommended. The Maestro reigns in Beck's house in much the same manner as Miss Trunchbull does in Roald Dahl's, Matilda. An internationally acclaimed and now incapacitated pianist, the physically imposing matriarch intimidates her son to strive to be a concert pianist like herself. Beck doesn't rebel despite hours of piano practice every minute that he is not at school. His hands ache and so do any other body parts if he speaks up. But he cannot leave Joey, his baby sister, whom he cares for almost entirely due to his mother's neglect.
When his teacher pairs him up with August for an assignment, bit by bit, the free spirited girl forces him to let her into his life. As the friendship grows and as a date with destiny approaches in the form of a possible internship with his famous Uncle Jan, his dysfunctional home life is exposed. Sadly, as so often happens outside of books, the characters are not galvanized to act until someone gets really hurt.
A light romance on the one hand, but a very dark and we hope anachronistic story of domestic violence. Unfortunately this may not be the case and many abused children and teenagers may continue to feel so isolated that they have no one to turn to. The role reversal of the physically and verbally abusive mother figure highlights the added shame for a powerless male victim. C.G. Drews infers that women are not exempt from bad character, nor men from taking the roles of victim or rescuer.
Natural dialogue and Beck's juxtaposed stream of consciousness helps young adults to appreciate that neglect and oppression are problems too serious to bear alone. Thank goodness for August and of course, the villages and authors who give such characters life.
Deborah Robins

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