Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

I just finished the book a little bit ago and love the different challenges the author put in the book that still linger in my mind.  What crosses the line and goes too far?  What is necessary for a major competition?  Is it ever okay to take a drug to help?

Title: Virtuosity

Author: Jessica Martinez

Publisher: Simon Pulse

Summary (by Goodreads):

Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen’s whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn’t just hot…what if Jeremy is better?

Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can’t end well, but she just can’t stay away. Nobody else understands her–and riles her up–like he does. Still, she can’t trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what’s expected.

Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall….

First Sentences:

The balcony felt cold under by my cheek.  Ten floors below me the traffic of Lake Shore Drive purred, but it seemed miles away.  Everything before me was perfectly still: a black starless sky over Lake Michigan, my bare arm jutting out between metal mars, and burnt-orange scroll of my violin rising out of my clenched fist.  It would be as easy as opening my hand.  I could just uncurl my fingers one by one, and when the last one relaxed, the violin would slice the night sky like a blade plummeting to the ground below.

My take:

I enjoyed the book!  It was definitely different than what I usually read, but I am so glad I took a change of pace!

Carmen is a product of her mother (who was once a famous singer) and a playboy father whose family has good old-school money.  Her mother developed polyps on her vocal chords, leaving her to surgeries and soon becoming “normal” by giving up her dreams of singing.  Her father left and only came to see her once or twice a year.

Carmen, who is now 17, has always taken violin lessons, but it’s been at the expense of a life outside of music and her homeschooling.  I was homeschooled…but this was just some crazy homeschooling.  Carmen had a bad recital a year earlier and was prescribed a beta blocker to help with nerves.  Unfortunately this lead her to feeling dependent and no longer was one pill enough to handle a recital, one helped with lessons and three started working for performances.

The only problem is her mother was so distraught about her own career being cut so short, that her pushing Carmen leads to a feeling of not being stop taking the pills for fear of failure.

Carmen meets her competition and Jeremy is everything she needs to stay away from.  But when she starts to fall for him and starts to realize the leash she’s been living on…it leads to dramatic decisions and fights between her and her mother.

But then something else comes to light.  It’s something that Carmen had never thought would happen.  It destroys her and everything she’s felt she’s ever accomplished.  When faced with the challenge, her decision puts into motion consequences that can’t be undone.

I was a music major in college and a lot of the book talked about the classical music industry and their attitudes towards music.  A lot of it is so true and so sad….

We both knew the rules.  The classical music industry is run by snobs, and musicians who try to spice up their images aren’t taken seriously, even if it isn’t just for the image.  Even if it’s because they want to test out jazz.  We have agents and managers, recording contracts with major labels, teachers and mentors to make sure we don’t do stupid things like moonlight at Chicago jazz clubs.

Again, I really liked this book.  It was a good change of pace from the other books I’d been reading lately.  🙂


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