PUBLISHER: Orchard Books
PUBLICATION DATE: 7th June 2018
RATING: ☆ ☆ ☆ .5
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?
This book was intense.
I’ve mentioned before in blog posts about reading habits and tastes, that I really struggle with stories about abuse. Whether it’s depicted in tv, film, or books, I’m not one to watch/read it if I know it has scenes in it that’ll make me feel uncomfortable. But a part of me thinks I might be missing out on a lot of stories because I don’t like leaving my comfort zone. I am not a victim of child abuse, but I think it’s especially important to talk about content that some people may find triggering, even if it’s something you haven’t experienced. So, if depictions of violent, physical abuse does trigger you in any way, I would read more about this book before just going straight in (like I did). I wouldn’t tell you not to read a book, that is your decision to make, but at least you know this now and can make a more informed decision.
I had some idea about it just from the blurb, but I like going in blind to a book if I can; I seem to enjoy content more that way without having so many expectations of what it should be. I think for the most part, I did really enjoy this book’s depiction of the internal conflict of striving to be the best while feeling like the worst. Beck is considered by many (outside of his own family) as one of the best young piano players out there. He has a legacy to uphold since his mother was a world renowned classical piano player and his uncle a famous composer. However he’s constantly beaten and bruised by his mother’s desperation for him to be the best, despite thinking he’s terrible. Beck, because of this, also thinks he’s terrible, and I like how we don’t truly know whether he’s good or not.
I’m gonna assume he is though. When you work hard on something, you get at least a little better at it, even if you’re not ‘born with the talent’.
The book on the whole is so sad as we peer into Beck’s inner lack of self-worth. I really felt for him, and was shouting when he made bad decisions. When you’re looking from the outside in at a bad situation, it’s very easy to say ‘do this! say that! just leave!’, but A Thousand Perfect Notes makes you really think about what you would do, and whether or not that would make the situation any better.
The writing was a bit strange in some places. There were a lot of similes and metaphors that were always taken to the extreme that seemed a little out of place. I can’t really explain without giving some examples:
“She whirls and Beck half expects wings made of frost and longing to sprout from her back and fly her home.”
Most of these strange sentences are either descriptions of August or speech from August. And I get why; she’s a bit of a stereotypical manic pixie dream girl. She’s kind of considered kooky because she doesn’t wear shoes often and has dreadlocks and is vegan. The story overall is a fairly stereotypical story but with more depth. Rather than Beck just being a mopey, alternative guy who needs a bit of colour in his life à la 500 Days of Summer, it’s all a bit more sinister. And rather than rolling my eyes at a lot of the cliches, I was more invested in Beck’s life. Unfortunately though, August still came across as a bit two dimensional.
This is a great debut from someone who has read far and wide about what makes a good book. Seriously, Cait’s reviews are on EVERY SINGLE BOOK PAGE ON GOODREADS. So congratulations Cait and can’t wait to read all your future books!