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The Lucy Variations

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  5,011 ratings  ·  730 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, 309 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Little, Brown BFYR
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Bethany This book was painfully boring. Here's my review:

I saw this book at the Barnes and Nobles bookstore near my home, and if I could go back in time to c…more
This book was painfully boring. Here's my review:

I saw this book at the Barnes and Nobles bookstore near my home, and if I could go back in time to change one thing, it would be the moment my line of vision came in contact with this terrible, terrible book. The cover drew me in and I said, "Oh it'll be a good read! " I didn't know how wrong I was. I threw away 18 bucks on a piece of trash and would have had better luck finding a good book in a dumpster. It reminds me of snot in your nose. That sensation you get when you just keep picking, and nothing comes out, so you just give up. I couldn't read anymore of this. It's unsettling that the main characters are in love when he's like 30 years older than her ( only a slight exaggeration) My only compliment/ positive aspect of this book? The pleasure it gave me when I finally said "enoughs enough" slammed the cover shut, and threw it on the floor. If I'm not able to sell this in a garage sale and at least get some of my money back, I'll enjoy watching it burn on the fire outside my house.
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Average rating 3.57  · 
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 ·  5,011 ratings  ·  730 reviews

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Jun 13, 2012 rated it liked it
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
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 mo
Jul 28, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, starred-2013, 2013, 4
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
Rachel Maniacup
Sep 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 29, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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
The Candid Cover (Olivia & Lori)
Full Review on The Candid Cover

4.5 Stars

The Lucy Variations is such an emotional rollercoaster. This book about grief and self-discovery has so many layers. The main character is a piano prodigy who quits and struggles to figure out who she is. I found the writing absolutely beautiful and recommend this book to everyone.

This is such a complex and emotional book! It tells the story of a piano prodigy who quits piano and tries to figure out who she is and what she wants. I loved the piano aspects
Antony John
Nov 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 27, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Mar 14, 2013 rated it did not like it
Shelves: galley-arc, netgalley
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
Aug 11, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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
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 grand
Jan 18, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
Kaethe Douglas
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
Aug 11, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-i-own, music
I had a hard time getting into this book. It was such a short book and I just couldn't get through the pages so I picked up the audio book which made it a little easier to get through. Overall the characters and the story very bland and boring. 😔
Oct 22, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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!
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
Jeff Raymond
May 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 14, 2011 marked it as to-read
Shelves: 2013, 2013-wishlist
I don't like this cover at all.
Sep 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
As a lover of classical Music and a piano player myself, I enjoyed the plot wholeheartedly. It was a pleasure to see famous music pieces scattered here and there within the narrative. Lucy's playlist at the end of the book was a beautiful accompaniment to the story.

The story centers in San Francisco, a favorite city of mine, so it was fun to revisit places like Pier 39, Embarcadero, Haight Ashbury, through reading.

All the characters were very realistic, and somewhat resemble people I know or ha
Michelle Wrona
*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
Jun 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
This is a great coming of age story that I would recommend for all fans of Sarah Zarr and Music.
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.

Jenny Sawyer
Apr 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
Jen Ryland
Apr 28, 2013 added it
Shelves: netgalley
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
Jul 12, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Jan 04, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
For me, it was just the book I was looking for. To play the piano is probably one of my impossible dreams.

Do you see how cool it is? DO YOU?

This takes me back to the Nodame Cantabile days. It's one of the best slice-of-life fictions I have had the pleasure of experiencing. Yes, experience, because I devoured the manga, watched the anime and live-action version and listened to the classical pieces they played. Just thinking about it brings tears to my eyes. (Even if you don't like anime, at
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AP Language SHS: Daphne LeSueur Summer Reading 6 13 Sep 29, 2017 05:36AM  
Is this a good book? 14 37 Apr 02, 2015 09:41PM  
YA Buddy Readers'...: The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr ----> Start Date : 24 of September 2013 10 17 Oct 03, 2013 06:31PM  
Mock Printz 2021: The Lucy Variations by Sara Zarr 4 68 Jun 29, 2013 02:01AM  

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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

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37 likes · 16 comments
“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
More quotes…