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The Lucy Variations

3.59  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,162 Ratings  ·  644 Reviews
Lucy Beck-Moreau once had a promising future as a concert pianist. The right people knew her name, her performances were booked months in advance, and her future seemed certain.
That was all before she turned fourteen.
Now, at sixteen, it's over. A death, and a betrayal, led her to walk away. That leaves her talented ten-year-old brother, Gus, to shoulder the full weight of
Hardcover, ARC, 320 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
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Anonymous This book was amazing. I loved how deeply and profoundly Zarr describes her characters, including Gus, Will, and definitely Lucy. By the time you…moreThis book was amazing. I loved how deeply and profoundly Zarr describes her characters, including Gus, Will, and definitely Lucy. By the time you finish the last page, it seems as if you know the characters so well, you could see and think like them. The plot is full of heart-warming conflict and touches of playfulness. I felt a rainbow of emotions when I read this book, including sympathy, joy, and grief for Lucy as she walks through the pages of The Lucy Variations. This book is one of my all-time favorites and it is definitely a recommended read, especially for pianists and musicians.(less)

Community Reviews

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I love Sara Zarr's writing and I always will. At my very first book club meeting with the fabulous ladies of Fairfax Forever YA, I listed her as one of my favorite YA authors (this after being told that I would be judged based on my answers). I even got my club to go rogue one month and read Sara Zarr's How To Save A Life instead of the Forever YA selection. I love that Sara Zarr’s novels will always find a way to reach right under my rib cage and rip out my heart, no matter how little I initial ...more
Rachel Maniacup
Sep 24, 2015 Rachel Maniacup rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Rachel by: Neil (or bleed)
This book is my first book of Sara Zarr,and I think reading this novel made me fully understand now, why my friend NEIL had fallen in love with this author.^^

This is a story of a 16 year old pianist sensation,who struggles to reclaim her love of music and herself.

Lucy Beck-Moreau came from a musically inclined,well-known family,so Lucy at a very young age is already a star and became famous at the age of 15,until she quit on stage one day before an important performance. And this had cause a big
Neil (or bleed)
"Yes, the world was beautiful. But music made that beauty personal. Nothing else could do that. Nothing."

What I love about Sara Zarr is how she can manage to fully reveal her characters emotionally. I mean I can feel with my heart the genuine emotions these characters carry with them, either it's joy or grief. It's contagious, too, that made me get attached or connected with them in any way possible.

Sara Zarr wrote about life issues and she was really good at it. Her novels I've read were movi
Apr 05, 2013 Tatiana rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, 2013
It appears the three of us (Catie, Flannery and I) are pretty much on the same page as to why this new Sara Zarr novel didn't work for us. Pardon me for repeating what has already been said.

Generally, it's a good thing when authors try to experiment and explore new points of view and styles of writing. But sometimes when they try something new, it just doesn't work as well as the old. This is the case with The Lucy Variations I think. The thing I disliked the most about this novel is its POV, sp
Anyone who has ever created something or pursued a passion knows that sometimes you hit that flow and nothing else in the world exists because what you're doing is the best thing there is and it fills you with everything you need. And anyone who has ever created something or pursued a passion also knows that it can be the MOST SOUL CRUSHING THING IN THE WORLD. That you're never good enough, that you'll never be good enough, that it's all just a fleeting sort of thing that you get lucky at doing ...more
Antony John
Nov 14, 2012 Antony John rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm not going to give a synopsis of THE LUCY VARIATIONS because the publisher's cover copy at the top of the page does a pretty darn good job of bringing us up to speed. Instead, I'm going to give three reasons why everyone should read this book:

1. It's by Sara Zarr:

It's no secret that I'm a fan of Sara Zarr. Enough of a fan that I begged Little, Brown to send me an ARC of THE LUCY VARIATIONS. Which they did, because they're nice like that.

Lucky me. Very, VERY lucky me.

My two favorite authors a
May 11, 2013 Sarah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another Zarr treasure, unafraid and unashamed to make readers uncomfortable by inviting us -- simply -- to look at real life through the lens of fiction.

Life and relationships *are* often uncomfortable, messy, and full of misunderstandings. Main character Lucy's feelings of confusion, shame, hope, burnout, regret, pride, and rekindled passion in the wake of a possibly career-ending decision at a prestigious piano competition are authentically tangled and explored. As an author, I especially con
Rating Clarification: 3.5 Stars

It could be a depressing thing to believe, at sixteen, that your best years were behind you.

The Lucy Variations is Sara Zarr’s newest YA contemporary novel that gives her readers a glimpse into the life of the musical elite. We get to witness firsthand how musical prodigies practice and compete, as well as how they struggle with the everyday pressure of perfecting their craft. Through Lucy’s perspective, it’s evident that it’s not all glitz and glamour when faced w
Apr 24, 2013 Nafiza rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was cautiously optimistic about this novel; my very first Sara Zarr book. My friends had read her previous book and loved it immensely so I decided to request this one because I cannot resist books about music prodigies. Especially ones who are mistaken and full of angst and feelings. It’s a thing.

And for the most part, The Lucy Variations delivers. The writing is crisp and infused with sharp wit. The friendships portrayed are varied and interesting and the family dynamics are complicated enou
The Lucy Variations is a raw, powerful portrayal of the life of a teen girl after she walks away from the thing that defined her.

As with all of Zarr’s novels, I loved the way she navigated complex family relationships in this novel. All of the characters had a different dynamic with each other, and it was interesting to see their relationships evolve–or maybe not so much the relationships themselves, but Lucy’s perspective on them. I was particularly moved by Lucy’s relationship with her grandf
Apr 15, 2013 caren rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps I'm not the proper audience for this book, but, being who I am...I can say that it didn't sit well with me. Not only because Lucy had an unhealthy obsession with older men, but because of Will's unhealthy attraction to a teenage girl. The relationship dynamic between these two turned my stomach, and the reason I kept reading because I wanted to see just how far the author would take things. And now that I've finished, I'm still not sure if it was intended for them to appear as more than ...more
This is a novel about first world problems: Lucy is a highly-regarded pianist who stopped playing when her grandmother died last year. Her family is in the 1% in San Francisco: mom, dad, grandfather, all manage the careers and the money, her little brother is now competing and performing. Lucy's best friend's parents are going through a nasty divorce.

Zarr has some lovely things to say about art and music, but the plot, the characters (there's an Asian male friend, too), the angst all feel predic
May 03, 2013 Holly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Originally published at Book Harbinger.

Sixteen-year-old Lucy Beck-Moreau isn’t concerned … yet. It is true that her ten-year-old brother Gus has taken over as the budding concert pianist in the family, but he doesn’t seem to be practicing his life away. He hasn’t even had a messy boy phase, so she figures hers may be enough for the both of them. As far as she knows, as soon as she quit the stage at the prestigious piano festival in Prague – which only accepts fifteen pianists from her age group
I have the overwhelming sense that this is a book I was supposed to love. That everyone in the book world community will love it; it will have a blurb in the NYT book review, and it'll be one of the spring It books for realistic fiction. But the truth is, reading it gave me this icky, slimy sensation, like tolerating a slug on my leg for an extended period of time.

I can't say what it was specifically. The relationship between Lucy and Will was definitely part of it: not only was it inappropriat
Mar 06, 2013 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: youngadult
One word: Perfection.

There's just no other way to go about describing a Sara Zarr book. Every one has been different. Every one has been beautiful. I don't know what else to say about this. I sometimes like to picture Sara, with a cup of coffee in one hand, sitting down at the computer and saying, "Well, it's time to start my next work of PURE FRAKKING GENIUS." And then she starts typing . . .

PS - It's not available yet, I managed to score an ARC because I'm lucky, lucky, lucky!
Jeff Raymond
Once upon the time, I was somewhat serious about music. Went to college for it, the whole nine yards. I was never as serious as Lucy or Lucy's family in The Lucy Variations, but I did see a lot here that I recognized from others, and this story was both wonderful and heartbreaking because of that.

Lucy quit music months earlier due to how she felt her priorities were being governed following the death of her grandmother. Worse for her family, she quit right before she was going to take part in a
Laura's Book Addiction
I don't like this cover at all.
Michelle Arrow
*1.5 star rating*

"Climb on the stage stairs. Go to the piano. Sit on the bench; adjust the pedals. Because you're on the program. Momentum. Decisions made for her, performances planned a year in advance. I don't want to go, she'd told her grandmother. You have to, her mother said."

My expectations of reading something by Sara Zarr go lower and lower each time, mainly because I'm disappointed every single time. The Lucy Variations was a book that was like a piano—mellow, and soft. But at the sam
What I liked

1. The writing was excellent. Zarr has a way of making things flow. Even though I didn't love the story, I can appreciate the talent behind it.

2. The side characters - Reyna, Cameron, Lucy's Dad - they created a great cast of extras. I enjoyed them more than the main characters.

What I didn't Like

1. Lucy. So annoying. She was a whiny-pants the entire time. Rude, selfish and obsessed with older men.

2. Will. Uh...taking advantage of a 16 year-old girl is NOT okay. I thought Lucy and W
Aisyah (≧◡≦) ♡
Good read about a talented girl who loved to play the piano but stopped because of the burden and pressure that comes with it.

Erica T
Mar 18, 2016 Erica T rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another enjoyable book by Sara Zarr. Like the others I've read, this one features real-life problems of a teenager (albeit a very rich teenager in this book). Zarr has written Lucy very believable and just like I remember teenagers being when I was one and as I see my own teen and tweens acting now. There is a relationship in this book that made me a little uncomfortable (view spoiler) ...more
May 20, 2013 Tasha rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: teen
Lucy Beck-Moreau was considered one of the top concert pianists. Now at age 16, she has abruptly left the concert circuit and doesn’t play the piano at all. Instead she is attending school just like any other teenager, doing homework, and listening to her younger brother Gus practice his piano pieces. When Gus’ aging piano teacher dies, she is replaced by Will, a young teacher who was once himself a child pianist and recommends plenty of time away from the piano for Gus, including once forbidden ...more
Full review appears on my blog, YA Romantics

I've read and enjoyed all of Sara Zarr's books, but this one might just be my favorite. The Lucy Variations is a beautifully crafted coming of age story, but also a deeply moving exploration of joy and its connection to the creative process.

Lucy Beck-Moreau is definitely very different from the characters Sara Zarr usually writes about. The protagonists I remember from her earlier books -- Jennifer in Sweethearts, Sam in Once Was Lost, Deanna from Stor
Jenny Sawyer
Aug 05, 2013 Jenny Sawyer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars.

See more at:

Even occasional visitors to may be aware of the fact that I am a bit of a Sara Zarr fangirl. So when I heard–was it eight, nine months ago?–that she had a new title coming out this spring, I put in a request for a review copy IMMEDIATELY.

Unfortunately, due to the timing of the book’s arrival, I didn’t get to read it right away, and by the time I began, there was already a significant amount of chatter on Goodrea
Sep 10, 2013 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had to think about this book for a few weeks before I rated it. It pains me to give something by Sara Zarr two stars. As a novelist, I adore her. As a person (who used to be one of my few female colleagues in a very boys-clubby arts discussion forum), I admire and respect her. But Lucy just didn't do it for me. The writing is as evocative as ever, modern without dating itself. The characters are fully realized, fully human. I couldn't stop turning pages. But the plot, and the way it resolved ( ...more
We don’t see ourselves as others do… it’s certainly true for Lucy and her family. And that’s the point, yes? That perspective is what they all needed some more of. First there’s her not wanting what they want and then there’s them wanting more for her. And then there’s her focusing on what she’d lost out on and them seeing things passing her by. In the mean time, there’s me not loving any of them. At. All. It’s a difficult read at points because they each made valid points:

How she could be spoil
May 20, 2013 Tiff rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: borrowed-sym, 2013
I really didn't like this book. The writing was good but I didn't care for the premise, the way the story played out or any of the characters. I didn't even really feel that the scenario was plausible or that the reactions of anyone in the story were the least bit realistic. (view spoiler) ...more
Feb 23, 2014 Winona rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love how this book inspires you to play piano/again! I love the way it feels when you find something you're passionate about, for e.g music altogether.
Jun 04, 2014 NebraskaIcebergs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
When The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr became available at our local library, it became my top pick to read during National Novel Writing Month. Since that time, I have purchased my own copy and it has become my turn-to book whenever I’m in the midst of an intense writing project.

Why? Foremost, when I’m struggling creatively, I want to read a book about which there is no question of whether I’ll like it. Sara Zarr has never disappointed. Just as important, the story is appropriate for a time when
Oct 23, 2015 Hannah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A lot about this book was hard to read, probably because nobody really wants to remember all the teenage angst that we suffered while we were trying to figure out who we were supposed to be in life. Lucy has been raised to be a concert pianist and has been performing and competing since she was 8. At 15, she walks away from it all. The book jacket described it as a tragedy, which I disagree with. In truth, her family hides the fact that her grandmother died because she is supposed to be performi ...more
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Is this a good book? 15 37 Apr 02, 2015 06:41AM  
YA Buddy Readers'...: The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr ----> Start Date : 24 of September 10 14 Oct 03, 2013 03:31AM  
Mock Printz 2017: The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr 4 68 Jun 28, 2013 11:01AM  
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Sara Zarr is the acclaimed author of four novels for young adults: Story of a Girl (National Book Award Finalist), Sweethearts (Cybil Award Finalist), Once Was Lost (a Kirkus Best Book of 2009) and How to Save a Life. Her short fiction and essays have also appeared in Image, Hunger Mountain, and several anthologies. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband, and online at ...more
More about Sara Zarr...

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“The world was full of beauty.

She wanted to grab hold of it and take it down into her bones. Yet always it seemed beyond her grasp. Sometimes only by a little, like now. The thinnest membrane.

Usually, though, by miles.

She couldn’t expect to be that kind of happy all the time. She knew that.

But sometimes you could. Sometimes you should be allowed a tiny bit of joy that should stay with you for more than five minutes. That wasn’t too much to ask. To have a moment like this, and be able to hold on to it.

To cross that membrane, and feel alive.”
“There's a lot that is awful. That's the struggle of getting old. To make sure you don't let what's hard...obscure the beauty.” 7 likes
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