A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews
From Goodreads: An emotionally charged story of music, abuse and, ultimately, hope.
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 is a book that I’ve been meaning to read for quite a long time now, and as much as I hate to admit it, it’s been just sitting on my shelf for the longest time. I did suggest that I wanted to include A Thousand Perfect Notes in my summer read-a-thon but as you can probably tell, that kinda fell by the wayside in the last few weeks. As did this book.
So yay, I finally got around to it. And I devoured it in a single day.
The plot is a bit of a slow-burn, and it moves in small increments when it does get started. But to be honest, that didn’t bother me all that much. The book is very character driven, and I feel like the whole thrust of the plot was more to do with the characters dealing with a lot of stuff, rather than a lot of plot stuff being thrown at them [if this makes any sense at all. And this totally works. Drews is just so good at characterisation. I really liked seeing the development of Beck’s character. It’s a difficult topic at the heart of the book, and I think it is handled in a very mature and empathetic way. I was literally cheering for Beck every step of the way, because he’s such a sweetheart. But he’s also a person and I liked how, even though the abuse he receives from his mother is very much integral to the plot, it doesn’t define his character. He has other things going on in his life.
Perhaps even more interesting was the mother’s character. The Maestro is in turns terrifying and hateful, and at others she seems to almost snap out of it. It’s possible to even feel sorry for her in some moments, when you realise she’s lost something she loves [this is in the synopsis, so it doesn’t count as a spoiler]. Obviously, her decision to abuse her son is horrible, and definitely doesn’t earn her any mom of the year awards, but I’m so glad that Drews handled this complex issue with poise and understanding. If Beck’s mom was completely evil, then it would be a lot harder to understand why Beck behaves the way he does in the book. But because she’s complicated, like an actual human being, we can actually see some of the issues at play here.
I liked August’s character well enough. She was sweet and kind, but she just didn’t seem as real as Beck and his character to me. Joey was funny and added a lot of comedy to the story, which I think was a good little balance to a lot of the darkness in the novel.
The descriptions also added a lot to the story, and were written with a deft touch. The bits about the piano really leapt off the page and brought the book to life. I feel like the novel packed a lot of gorgeous writing and character building into what is quite a short book, and this is one of the reasons why I read A Thousand Notes so fast.
Overall, I’m giving A Thousand Perfect Notes an 8.5/10. I loved the writing and the characters, and how it tackles the problem of abuse, and I really recommend this book to anyone interested in a hard-hitting YA contemporary. Obviously, I should point out that there’s some triggers for domestic abuse in here and thoughts of self-harm, so if you’re struggling with these issues, this might not be the book for you.
Has anyone else read this book or plans to? What did you all think of it? I’d love to know your thoughts and feelings, so please leave comments in the comment section and I’ll respond ❤