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Mountain Solo

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Back at her childhood home in Missoula, Montana, after a disastrous concert in Germany, a teenage violin prodigy contemplates giving up life with her mother in New York City and her music as she, her father, stepmother, and stepsister hike to a pioneer homesite where another violinist once faced difficult decisions of his own.

224 pages, Hardcover

First published September 1, 2003

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About the author

Jeanette Ingold

9 books23 followers
I love road trips and museums, mountains and woods, libraries and old houses, mysterious photographs, and people with stories to tell. I’m a Montanan who grew up in New York in a family of Texans. I’ve a husband, two kids, a pair of grandkids, and a dog named Mica. Most of my best friends are other writers, and my days don’t feel right when I don’t begin them by putting words on the page. And that all leads to books.

Many of those road trips have been to national parks where I’ve seen countless small signs saying that CCC youth build this turnout or that lodge. They made me curious about who those young people were and why they worked so hard.

The result was HITCH, a novel that brings one of my most-beloved Texas characters, Moss Trawnley, to a Civilian Conservation Corps camp in central Montana. I’m pleased to report that the newest edition of HITCH is a great audiobook recording from Audible.

Young people tackling hard jobs is a theme that runs through all of my novels. THE BIG BURN first brought my writing home to the Northwest. This is a place where forest fires shape land and lives and where young people like my son in his college days sometimes spend their summers on fire crews.

I was delighted when VOYA called this fictional account of the terrible 1910 wildfires “a must-read for adrenalin junkies,” but I hope it will also provoke thought about some of the factors that lie behind the forest fires of today.

PAPER DAUGHTER, my newest novel, tells two stories of teens making their way in the adult world. One is a Chinese immigrant living under a false identity in Exclusion Era days. The other is Maggie Chen, an intern at a Seattle newspaper. I had fun writing her experiences there. My own first writing job was in a newsroom, and looking back, I have to think I couldn’t have asked for a better place to hone my craft.

I don’t put my life into my books, exactly, but bits and pieces do, of course, make their way in, reshaped and sometimes carried far beyond where I might have gone.

MOUNTAIN SOLO is about a passion for music—for a violin, especially—and about the hard choices that can come with great talent. I’ve played mine only enough—in high school and now picked up again--to have a huge respect for anyone who works hard at learning an instrument.

THE WINDOW is about a different kind of courage—the kind needed by a teenage girl facing blindness. It was my first book and, along with two others, is set in Texas. The heroine, Mandy, finds support in family and family stories, and that’s another theme that I like to explore.

Mine was an airline family, and the tales my mom and dad told led me to write AIRFIELD. It’s about two teens who talk themselves into jobs at a small airport in the sometimes romantic, sometimes terrifying early days of commercial aviation.

And finally there’s PICTURES, 1918, to be released as an eBook later this year. I wrote it wanting to put my grandmother’s voice on paper, as well to capture the magic of photography, whether it’s done with an old-fashioned film camera or on the newest phone. I hope you’ll look for it and let me know what you think!

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5 stars
36 (20%)
4 stars
67 (38%)
3 stars
59 (34%)
2 stars
7 (4%)
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4 (2%)
Displaying 1 - 23 of 23 reviews
Profile Image for Debby Guerra.
15 reviews
February 15, 2021
A sweet and easy read that any music lover could enjoy🎼. The little stepsister though, she’s real annoying 😅
Profile Image for X.
195 reviews
May 8, 2012
I had seen this book at the library so many times, but put off reading it because it could have been so terrible. I am so glad I finally read it!
The main story is carefully woven together with two other stories - that of the fiddle-playing settler who our heroine is helping research and that of our heroine's younger self - which taken as a whole fills in how Tess got to this point of her life and makes the main story so much more complete.
I thought the characters were well portrayed: the overbearing mother living her dreams through her daughter; the father trying so hard to understand, but not quite succeeding; the animal loving little step-sister; the sweet friend-maybe-boyfriend; and most of all Tess, the prodigy violinist. While I was attracted to the musical aspect of the book (and appreciated the accurate musical terms!), it covers themes that any YA audience could relate to: school, divorce, peer and parental pressure, and wanting to be in control of one's own life.
Profile Image for Sarah.
102 reviews
January 23, 2009
This was one of my favorite books! Until I let my friend borrow it on her vacation...

Now it's somewhere in the Czech Republic.
Profile Image for John Clark.
2,263 reviews25 followers
September 10, 2019
This is an excellent example of a story that is immune to ageing. The mix of contemporary where Tess is trying to heal from her wounded soul, and historical, where Frederik and his family are struggling with the unfairness of frontier life and the harshness of pioneer times, is blended extremely well. I read it quickly and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Profile Image for Yulie Vega.
10 reviews
August 25, 2018
Even though it was assigned for my English lit. class it was a great book. There was somethings in the book that bothered like for example: The mom's attitude towards Tess's career got on my nerves. But yeah it was a pretty good book. 🤷😊
Profile Image for Zac Chase.
Author 1 book6 followers
August 29, 2018
There's potential here that never gets fully realized. I felt as though permission to write another 100 pages would have given the book a chance to go more deeply into topics and ideas that are touched on too lightly for real emotional impace.
Profile Image for Jennifer.
55 reviews
February 1, 2020
Finally, a young adult novel that is not dystopian fantasy. I enjoyed this book, and felt that it gave an honest voice about the pressures that gifted young musicians face.
Profile Image for Janni.
Author 43 books447 followers
September 30, 2009
What a lovely book.

It's all about creating art--specifically, about two musicians, present day Tess, a violin prodigy who leaves her mother and her elite private school in New York and runs home to her father in Montana when she flubs a competition; and early 20th century Frederick, who sets aside the possibility of serious musical training to become a homesteader in Montana instead.

But mostly it's about Tess. And about how the small decisions we make early on can shape our entire lives, even though other decisions might not really have been any better or worse. About how there's more than one way to be happy, and yet once we find a way to be happy, we have to follow and honor that.

And about what it really takes to create music--or anything else--and about why creation can't only be about the artist, and about why artists need more than creation to build a life. Wonderful stuff--from the opening chapter, when Tess blows her competition performance:

I pulled my bow in a quick downstroke and heard a discordant note tear out raw and wrong.

That's what I keep remembering. How once I'd played that note so badly, there was no way to get it back. And how that one mistake led to another and another--a missed accent, a hurried rest beat, an odd angle to my bow arm. One off note after another, after another, after another.

Somehow my hands, on their own, played to the concerto's end: played decently through the easy parts when I should have been preparing for the trouble spots and wasn't; faltered through the hard sections with only what my fingers remembered and nothing of what I needed to add from my head and my heart.

To the ending, when Tess tries to explain to her new stepsister, Amy, why she's going back to New York and to her music:

She [Amy:] sniffs. "Is your Mom making you go [back:]?"


"Then why?" she demands. "If you can stay here, why don't you?"

"Because right now I belong where I can learn to be the best musician I can be."

She considers than and then asks, "But what if you mess up again?"

"I don't know," I answer. "I might. But you wouldn't want me not to try, would you? To have less courage than you showed tonight?"

And yet, though Tess decides to go back, she goes back differently--in small ways that will affect head and heart and that connection to the wide world that is so important to creating, and so easy to lose sight of.

Along the way we get a dose of wildlife rehabilitation and forest service archeology and homesteading history. Like I said, wonderful stuff.

(Copied from an lj post that should have gone here ages ago.)
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Katrina J.
6 reviews
March 23, 2012
MUSIC! I recommend this book to Girls who play the Violin. But, If you don't play the violin, you can still read it, but you might not know what the main character is talking about one sixteenth of the time. Okay, so, apparently this book is about a girl, and her violin. She got her first violin when she was really young. So she got good at it. She had lessons every day, and was homeschooled. Her (Tess, the main charecter) parents started fighting because her dad wanted her to be a regular kid. But, the only problem is, is that she isn't. She's a talented kid. Her dad was proud and everything, but, her parents started fighting. And they ended up getting a divorce.
Okay, so, there are different charecters in this book. To Frederick, To Tessie( Young Tess ), To Tess. I though it slow aroung the Frederick parts, but overall, my favorite charecter was Tessie. She was cute, and silly. :)
Overall, this was a good book. I liked it.
Profile Image for Libby Ames.
1,451 reviews41 followers
September 2, 2012
Tess’s life has been ruled by her violin. While she loves the music, she suffers from the pressures placed on all child prodigies. After a crushing failure in her first performance as a soloist, Tess retreats from New York to spend the summer with her father in Montana.

Intertwined with Tess’s story, is the story of Frederick. He is a teenaged homesteader trying to make ends meet in turn of the century Montana. Jeanette Ingold skillfully jumps between the stories of these two young people with similar struggles in vastly different time periods and life styles. Through their experiences, she shows the joy and heartache of finding one’s place in the world and taking on the responsibilities of life. Ingold provides a realistic view of both homesteader life and the struggles of a truly talented musician.
Profile Image for Faith.
20 reviews2 followers
January 28, 2009
For as long as she can remember, Tess has played the violin. After a disastrous solo, Tess leaves her mother in New York and goes to spend some time with her father and his new wife and step daughter. Tess must find her own voice, stand up to her controlling mother, and decide what she really wants in life. The different steps of her decision making process are illustrated by flashbacks to Tess' childhood, and through linkages with a violin player from the past.

This book is an honest account of a young girl becoming a young woman, and expressing who she is with integrity. The narrative strategy is interesting, making the book and interesting study in plot and point of view. A good read.
Profile Image for Jill.
890 reviews14 followers
September 15, 2009
Ingold is good at thoroughly researching her subjects and accumulating enough information about them that she can create realistic characters and write engaging stories about them. I can't say this is one that will stick with me for a long time, but it was very well crafted.

Young adults who have a special kind of talent will probably enjoy this kind of book, although any teen who feels they are different from others (though not too different) will find something they can relate to. I liked the story of the other violinist/homesteader that ran alongside the present-day story, although I thought that the young man was a lot older than the female protagonist and they didn't have all that much in common, so it was an odd juxtaposition.
1,034 reviews7 followers
September 11, 2009
Missoula is a favorite setting, and I have heard Jeanette read and speak a dozen times. I liked the back story, but there was a lack of depth in the present day story that didn't work for me. I didn't feel like she developed any of the characters well enough, and especially didn't care for the lack of development of mom and dad. It was disappointing because character development is usually one of her strengths.
Profile Image for Tonya.
234 reviews
May 14, 2012
Reading all the Ingold books I can before the Young Readers Conference in July! This was the first I've read. I agree with my mother-in-law's description of Ingold's stories: "Very safe." This is the story of a prodigy violinist who spends a summer with her father in Montana. I felt that Ingold did a good job with the main character; the supporting cast was a bit predictable though. A good YA read.
Profile Image for Alison Worrell.
27 reviews
June 6, 2014
Tess is a child prodigy on the violin. She gives up on it after messing up on a solo in a concert. She then discovers the story of another violinist and pioneer from one hundred years before while spending time with her father.

This is a tale of overcoming adversity as a teen. I thought it was interesting, though my attention drifted in some spots. There are a lot of classical music references.

Profile Image for Chelsea Shoemake.
7 reviews1 follower
November 6, 2014
This was part of the library when I inherited it, and it came out around 2003.

I was pretty impressed by this book. I read it under the impression that it would be one genre, but it turned out to be a heartwarming tale told in 3 perspectives.

While the main character is indeed a 16-year-old, this book had nothing objectionable to the 2nd and 3rd grade clientele that I serve. In fact, it often flashes back to when Tess was a child and her perspective.

Profile Image for Greta.
902 reviews
June 28, 2008
Jeanette Ingold's book is beautifully written with lyrical language. She captures the realistic feelings of Tess, a child prodigy violinist, who, after blowing her concert debut in Germany, must decide who she is, what she wants from life, and really how important music is to her. It was a fabulous book and I recommend it to everyone.
Profile Image for Jenny.
905 reviews7 followers
April 20, 2011
Tess is running from the memory of a terrible concert, unsure whether she will ever have the courage to play again. She is home in Montana with her dad, a million miles away from New York, special music schools, and the pressure. Tess must find herself in the search for a lost homestead and the story of the people who live there.
Profile Image for Stephanie A..
2,322 reviews64 followers
May 18, 2012
It took too long for the 3 parallel stories to make sense instead of just splintering the focus, but by the time we got to the end, I was thoroughly invested and heartbroken by every possible outcome. I would read a sequel, that's how much I want to hear more about her stepfamily and see her hinted-at relationship develop.
Profile Image for Jenny.
142 reviews3 followers
August 15, 2008
I thought this was an excellent YA novel. I enjoyed the writing style and appreciated the fact that it was very clean. It tackled a very real YA issue -- feeling like you aren't in control of your life -- and she approached it in a unique way. I recommend it.
Profile Image for Alice T..
93 reviews
July 13, 2007
very good book about music, love and other tough teenage choices
Profile Image for Jenn.
949 reviews2 followers
August 17, 2012
Describes very well some of the pressures that come with being musically talented.
Displaying 1 - 23 of 23 reviews

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