A Thousand Perfect Notes Review

Monday, 23 April 2018

Rating: 5/5
Source: Netgalley

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?

Being a follower of Cait/Paper Fury for a while, this was always going to be a book I picked up. As suggested by the blurb, this is a book with some very dark themes and when the first line of the book is; "What he wants most in the world is to cut off his own hands.", you know you're in for a wild ride. 

Lets talk about Beck, the main protagonist. Everything is a struggle for him, I don't mean that sarcastically, even the one thing he excels at, playing the piano, gives him no joy. The only good thing he has in his life is his little sister Joey, though even she verbally abuses him and kicks him in the shin on multiple occasions -there is still a lot of love there though. Cait has just chosen to give us as much angst as possible. 

So Beck is a virtuoso, not by choice or passion, but by force. His mother was a famous pianist before a stroke left her hands unable to play. So she does what any parent would do when their dreams are shattered, she lives through her children. The Maestro is a monster, she uses threats and violence to make Beck play and she punishes him when he slips up, even if it is to do with exhaustion or pain. It was really difficult to read, but I couldn't stop. 

Beck's life is made even more inconvenient when he gets paired with August on a school project. Beck is reluctant but August forces her company on him and a super sweet companionship ensues. August doesn't really hide that she thinks Beck is interesting/attractive/has beautiful eyes, which I really liked. She drops in these compliments so casually, and Beck doesn't know what to do with that kind of affection, so again it's sweet to see him wrestle with it. The poor guy deserves nice things but he has so much going on that he can't think about that for the majority of the book, so don't think this is one of those 'love fixes all' scenarios, but it's still a nice break from all the awful. 

Cait's use of description is brilliant, there was one scene in particular when I was just in awe and the vivid images that were created just left me speechless. It's briefly explored that Beck has a passion for composition, and I would like to have seen more of this, when he forgets the piece he's supposed to play, he plays the notes in his head with unexpected results. 

Contemporary is always risky with me, but this was a very real book that covered some serious topics. I even think at times it felt like there was magical realism at work in the music scenes, the piano and music itself became this entity that could either be a dark character, and very briefly a ray of hope. Another scene I really liked was when August introduces Beck to her music and it's as though he has some kind of spiritual awakening. All he's ever known is classical piano and he thinks it means he hates music because he hates that so passionately, but he hears Twice Burgundy and its like nothing he's experienced before; definitely magical. 

I would recommend this book to anyone, like me, who enjoys ugly crying while reading a book. This book made me feel things and I think everyone should at least give it a go. A warning though, get ready to shed a thousand painful tears. 

Thanks for reading!

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