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A Thousand Perfect Notes

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An emotionally charged story of music, abuse and, ultimately, hope.

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?

282 pages, Paperback

First published June 7, 2018

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About the author

C.G. Drews

5 books22.5k followers
C.G. Drews is the author of A THOUSAND PERFECT NOTES and THE BOY WHO STEALS HOUSES and the upcoming SKELETON BOYS (2024). C.G.’s work has been translated into six languages and was nominated for the 2020 CILIP Carnegie Medal and won the 2020 CBCA Honour Award. Currently living in Australia, never sleeps, and is forever buried under a pile of unread books. Find on twitter and Instagram as @paperfury.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,263 reviews
Profile Image for C.G. Drews.
Author 5 books22.5k followers
June 30, 2022
My debut is officially out in the world! If you decided to read it, thank you.
October 20, 2021

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I'm honestly shocked that this has practically no negative reviews because I personally thought it was pretty awful. If reading this book has taught me anything, it's that I'm a glutton for punishment when it comes to reading over-hyped young adult novels, and I should probably change my blog name to "I hate everything you love." Will I learn my lesson? No. But at least I can admit it.

A THOUSAND PERFECT NOTES is the story of Beck, an abused boy who plays the piano and hates it - although he hates his mother more. His mother is probably the most grotesque caricature of an abusive parent that I've read recently; she has all the nuance of a cardboard cut-out villain, and the physical scenes of abuse towards him and his young sister are so graphic and numerous - especially towards the end - that it feels like it's done more for shock value than any sort of narrative purpose. It was excessive and tasteless and left me feeling a little sick.

One day, Beck's snarky, only-hasn't-been-fired-because-he-probably-has-tenure-and-knows-where-all-the-bodies-are-buried teacher assigns a quirky assignment where students are forced to pair off, interview each other about a religious or moral issue, and then write about the other's side. (I can almost hear the parental phone calls.) Beck is paired off with a manic pixie dreamgirl named August, who doesn't wear shoes and cuts class to buy cake, and draws all over herself with sharpie while talking about how she just wants to "be alive." She's so annoying. I hated her instantly. I hated how violent she was, and how this was supposed to be cute (it's described as kitten-like at one point). Especially since Beck's mother was also physical and this was definitely portrayed as a bad thing. I felt like that was a really bad decision on the author's part, because it seems to be saying that using violence as a solution is OK if it's for a good cause. But I'm sure Beck's mother saw what she was doing as a "good cause," so why is kicking people in the bathroom for hurting animals OK, but punching people for playing piano badly not? Is it that August is less effective in meting out her forms of violence? Is it because she's young and cute and pretty and harmless?

Obviously the two of them are love interests, and August doesn't really have any agency beyond thinking of quirky things to open Beck's eyes to the joys of life and inspire him, etc. etc. etc. They're actually quite rude to one another in the beginning, trading grade school insults and being garbage humans to one another. August is like a pitbull and just won't leave him alone, invasive in a way that would be rather scary if the gender-roles were reversed. And Beck wallows in misanthropy that I tried to tell myself was probably caused by the abuse, but comes off as really annoying and judgey at times. Meanwhile, this fluffy, quirky love story is juxtaposed against the cruel landscape of physical and emotional abuse, and Beck doing things like fantasizing about chopping off his own hands so he won't have to play music anymore but also skipping class to go buy hippie cake with his pixie girlfriend. What the hell? The book is told in an annoyingly precious narrative style that does not fit the content of the story at all and makes the characters (who I think are supposed to be high school age) sound more like middle-grade characters who speak in some of the most contrived and unrealistic dialogue I've encountered in a while. Seriously, who, apart from an aging starlet (who's probably either Zsa Zsa Gabor or Joan Collins) says divine and scrumptious every other word?

I feel like this book wanted to be Akemi Bowman's STARFISH and Jerry Spinelli's STARGIRL, but couldn't decide which to be, and so decided to settle for both. I liked both those books individually, but in an X meets Y blending of the two - at least in this embodiment - it really doesn't work out. I did think that Drews did a better job of humanizing the abuser in this book and showing moments of jarring normality in between the abuse where not being abusive feels like a "reward" or "kindness" than STARFISH did, but STARFISH did a better job with writing realistic characters who, while unlikable, are at least relatable and sympathetic. And while Jerry Spinelli's STARGIRL was also a manic pixie dreamgirl, at least she had agency beyond saving some rude and sad-eyed boy by skipping along gutters and wearing ribbons in her hair. Maybe this book tried to tackle too much. Maybe I'm just too old and prickly. Either way, I did not like this book.

P.S. I drew the characters as cakes:

1 to 1.5 stars
Profile Image for Charlotte May.
720 reviews1,114 followers
August 22, 2018
😭😭 I’m not crying. You’re crying 😭😭

Well this was beautiful! I was hoping this book would be great. But I was nowhere near prepared for all of the emotions and the love I would feel for these two characters!

Cait - you are amazing & thank you for blessing us with this book. It is a DEBUT!! LIKE WHAT EVEN?!

So we have Beck, a sensitive boy with music in his soul. A soul that is unfortunately being tortured and damaged by the cruel witch that is his abusive mother. Since her dream of being a pianist crashed and burned, she takes all her bitterness out on her son, and is adamant that he will be a prodigy, whether he likes it or not.
This means he is forced to practise every spare hour of the day. He has no friends, no other hobbies and is barely scraping by in school. His life is awful.

That is until August walks into his life. Bright, colourful, optimistic August, who makes it her mission to befriend Beck by any means necessary! She is paired with Beck in a class project, which Beck cannot contribute to, because when is he able to study with her? Certainly not after school, where his mother AKA The Maestro monitors his every move.

She meets Beck and his incredible younger sister Joey every day before school and walks home with them every day. Beck's relationship with Joey is wonderful! He ensures that their mother's abuse never affects her, he protects her and you can tell he loves her more than anything in the world.

A beautiful story, that flows gloriously. I loved watching August and Beck grow, as Beck learns to stand up for himself and fight back. I will reread this story time and time again.

"You are a scrawny, bitter, nasty classical pianist and I don't know whether that's the best thing I've ever heard or the funniest,"
Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.6k followers
June 1, 2019
i find it rather difficult to describe how some stories can be so heartwarming and heartbreaking at the same time, how they can be so hopeful and depressing, so inspiring and sorrowful. these things should not coexist together inside the same story and, yet, ‘a thousand perfect notes’ somehow manages it. but i think thats what makes this story so raw, powerful, emotional, and real. such a large accomplishment for a debut novel. bravo!

4 stars
Profile Image for Warda.
1,207 reviews19.7k followers
September 3, 2018
It’s always disappointing when you expect or hope for a book to become one of your favourites and it doesn’t. I thought I was going to love this book, but it went into the opposite direction, and it just didn’t deliver for me.

The aspect I appreciated the most was how abuse was looked and the psyche of the victim. I felt Beck’s despair and his complete lack of belief in himself, because of what he went through.
But that’s pretty much all we got throughout the book. I feel like it would’ve been more impactful had we gotten more background on his mother, what her life was like before the tragedy occurred, how she was with her kids, to present day. Myself and Karima who I was buddy-reading this with were pretty much in agreement about this.

We just got a small glimpse into her life, but not enough to make me appreciate her as the villain of the story. Or why she did what she did. And due to the lack of background, I couldn’t fully connect with her (that information was too vital) and as the story progressed, I couldn’t empathise with Beck, Joey and August either.

August was just thrown in there. She just happened to come along to ‘fix’ Beck. We barely knew anything about her, if anything at all, and their relationship/friendship wasn’t convincing in the slightest.

The writing was nice enough, at times slightly too metaphorical for my liking, but I liked how it brought the music to life in my head and in Beck’s head. I wish we had gotten more of his own music.

And that’s the feeling I was left with by the end of the book: that I wanted more. That there should’ve have been more.

Pre-review feels.
Worms, I’m so excited about this book! We’re all familiar with the author through social media (I’m obsessed with her tweets. She writes the most relatable shit!) and I love seeing people live out their dream, so it’s awesome to see a book being published by her.

I can’t wait to dive into this story.

Buddy-reading with Karima!
Can’t wait to discuss this with you. 😊
Profile Image for Kayla Dawn.
291 reviews901 followers
March 19, 2019
Okay, I didn't like this.
But the thing is, it isn't a bad book.
It's just not for me sadly.

I like the topic and especially Joey was written very well. I also "like" that we deal with an abusive mother instead of an abusive father because that's pretty rare in literature even though it's definitely a problem in the real world!

But Beck felt sorry for himself way to much for my taste. Yes, he does not have it easy but hearing him whine every page get's annoying after a while. But I am quite easily annoyed by characters who complain a lot (even if it's justified), so that's kind of my fault I guess.

The writing style itself was fine for the most part. It just felt a little forced at times, like the author tried to hard to be poetic and meaningful (or funny - but again, just not my type of humor 🤷🏻‍♀️)
Oh, and I was a little thrown off by the weird third person but still in his head knowing all his thoughts and feelings type of perspective? I don't even know how to call it. I feel like a normal first person perspective would have worked better.

Another thing that annoyed me was how conveniently the mother was absent from home whenever Beck needed her to be. That felt like a lazy way to solve the problem of Beck not being able to leave the house or to invite someone in.

Overall, this was an ok book, just not my cup of tea.
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,048 reviews1,381 followers
June 18, 2018
“Music is nothing unless it fills your soul with colour and passion and dreams”

🌟 Drews is one of the best reviewers on GR and that’s why she knows what is the importance of an honest book review. Before reading this I saw many reviews mentioning that they are “biased” because they know the author, that just made me even more critical while reading this!

🌟 A few pages into the book and I was so into the story, the author does not need her status as a best reviewer or anything to succeed because she most definitely can write! This is a debut novel but it did NOT feel like one. This is better than many books that I have read. My expectations were exceeded and Drews, my hat is off to you!

🌟 This was a fast read, You can read it in one sitting or in one day and you won’t regret it. Point is that this is only one more reason to read this.


🌟 The GR page of this book says that is “An emotionally charged story of music, abuse and, ultimately, hope.” and I can’t find a better way to describe it. It is a story about a boy who lives under the shadow of his mom, his mom is crazy and violent and she wants things to be done her way, so this boy’s life is actually Lifeless. Then there is August whose life is the total opposite, they have to do a project together and the rest I will leave for your imagination… or you can actually read the book to know what happens!

“If he were a piano, all his strings would have snapped”

🌟 This book was emotional, there is a baseline of sadness in the story (The good kind though). And I was not waiting for a plot twist, I just wanted to know what happens. That is due to the fact that the characters were fleshed out and I do care what happens to them.

🌟 Summary: This is a relatively fast but emotional read. A debut that did not feel like one, It shows the beauty of music, dreams and hope. I will read the authors other works for sure now!
June 22, 2018

„No doubt you’ve painted me the monster. Well, fine. I shall be your monster.
But I will also get you into the greatest concert halls in the world, get you the best tutor, make your name be known, make you a famous pianist who will want for nothing.“

Story ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
When we grow up we have dreams. Dreams of being an artist, an author or a pianist.
We’re dreaming of being the best, the greatest, the most famous.
But sometimes dreams do not come true and some people destroy, forget their dreams.
But some think that maybe if they weren’t lucky or talented enough, maybe their kids will live their dream.
But they often forget that their kids could have another dream they want to fulfill. And when they forget, kids suffer. They suffer from high pressure and consequences.
And that sometimes makes their life a living hell.
When Beck was a small kid he learned to play the piano. But the older he got, the more pressure his mother - the Maestro - added to his thoughts. And when pressure isn’t enough, there is violence.
Becks life is filled with pressure, music, piano playing, violence, fear and living like a ghost. But then he meets August, and she changes his mind in a way, that maybe even saves his life.
When I heard that a famous Goodreads blogger wrote a book, I was intrigued. First of: the cover is gorgeous. And that is always a good sign.
Second: the story is so wonderfully sad and still beautiful in a way I can’t describe.
The whole book is so addictive, if I could’ve skipped work, I would’ve done it. But life is hard and full of responsibilities, so it took me two days.
For everyone who thought about reading a sad but still beautiful book, try out this one.
It’s definitely worth a try.
(And for the people that think that such families, such violent parents do not exist, I can definitely tell you otherwise. They exist. And they’re one of most horrible things on earth.)

Character ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
"He can't care about anything else. He can't. The music in his head is his pocket of relief, the only thing he passionately cares about.”
In the beginning I wasn’t sure about Beck.
He was so quiet, so filled with music and fear but nothing else. But then August appeared, a happy always smiling positive girl with a strange food habit and the talent to always make anyone feel a little bit better.
And then Beck uncovered.
Slowly we see a little bit of the real Beck.
And he’s filled with his music, with notes that he’s imagining and thoughts about a girl with a beautiful smile.
I liked the characters, they felt real and with every word I read I felt more of the pain and fear Beck felt.
Next to those two cuties there is Joey, or Johanna, Becks little sister and a real whirlwind full of German curse words and energy. She was so adorable and I wished I had such a cute little sister.

Relationships ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
“I'll write you an entire symphony if you ask.”
Even though this is a contemporary. This is not a love story. Well, at least not completely.
It’s more of a breaking-out-of-a-bad-family-and-finally-realizing-that-your-parents-dreams-are-not-your-own-book.
But there was still a little bit of love, pure innocent love. And it was so beautiful.
I also loved that Beck was such a wonderful big brother in this book. He walked his little sister to and from school. Everyday. He cared about her, protected her. He always tried to make her life a little less miserable.
I wish I had a big brother like Joey did.

Writing style ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I just need to say it and I’ll say it a million times more: the author is so talented, so full of interesting characters and beautiful words. She has the talent to capture pain and fear and let you feel it through your bones. You will feel anger, sadness and you’ll fell happiness. Because that’s what this book does to you.
I also really loved that it was filled with German words and phrases. It also pretty much captured a few habits of Germans: we really do love punctuality. And hard working people. And a strict way of teaching things.
The author did capture that pretty good.
Lastly: Read it, read it, read it!
It’s so worth it!

“Beck closes his eyes.
Zones out so far he reaches the place deep inside where his own music lies.
Little notes clamouring to be free.
His own notes.
His own creations.
His fingers tap a tattoo against his other clammy palm.
If people cut him open, they'd never accuse him of being empty.
He's not a shell of a pianist - he's a composer.
Cut his chest and see his heart beat with a song all his own.”
Profile Image for Inge.
348 reviews892 followers
May 28, 2018
If you’re thinking, “Oh, I bet A Thousand Perfect Notes is going to be funny because Cait’s blog is funny” then HAHAHA <--- I’m sorry but that was your last laugh. Ever. I hope you enjoyed it. Because this book is 50% heartbreaking and 50% soul destroying and 50% gut wrenching and trust me the math adds up.

Still, as a long-time reader of Paper Fury, I have become familiar with her unique way of writing, and it was fun to find some of those “Caitisms” throughout the story, like:
• cake
• using “exactly” in phrases such as “this surprises exactly no one”
• “pterodactyl screech”
I mean, I was half expecting characters to be called pineapples and beans, but maybe she’s saving that for a different book.

But even new readers of Cait’s (that’s Ms. Drews for you newbies) will find plenty to enjoy in this deeply moving story of domestic abuse, sibling love, music, and finding friendship in unexpected places & people.

I did have some issues with the friend in question, August. Don’t get me wrong, she was great and I loved what she meant to Beck. I love how he was her friend even when she wasn’t his. But she was a little too Manic Pixie Dream Girl for me. Sure, people are allowed to be quirky in a contemporary, so I’ll forgive her for putting beetroot in cupcakes.

For some reason, the thing that bothered me the most was that she didn’t wear shoes. Have a full day of school ahead of you? No shoes. Going to a playground where people use drugs? No shoes. Live in Australia where you can step on something really venomous? NO SHOES. I mean I’m sorry but I must have missed the part where August says that she’s ACTIVELY TRYING TO DIE? Can you be quirky without cutting your feet open with needles and broken glass okay thanks.

Take that out, though, and she was exactly what Beck needed. I loved the scenes in her house because they were full of dogs and also the family banter was amazing. I loved Beck’s little sister Joey, whose sole purpose is to eat and destroy. I hated that I loved how this story tore my heart

In conclusion, this book is really good. This surprises exactly no one.

Thank you to NetGalley and the author for providing me with a review copy
Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,833 followers
August 1, 2018
book #2 done for the booktubeathon ✔️

who knew this 300 paged book would crush me so thoroughly. well done.

this book is so SAD and tragic and the characters are so REAL and flawed and sad and i just wanna curl up into a ball bc what do i do with these feelings

and then the ending comes and its so hopeful and i just, what an incredible debut.


4.5 stars!!

full review to come maybe??

im so proud of cait for how far shes come and for paving the way for bloggers and reviewers and giving them hope in becoming actual! real life! authors!! 😭😭😭 girl, ya did it.

im also excited bc im literal contemp trash and i love me some hard-hitting, soulful contemps

buddy read with the cute, fuzaila
Profile Image for joanna ☽ vee.
134 reviews104 followers
June 26, 2018
"If people cut him open, they'd never accuse him of being empty."

Listen, do you ever finish a book and just stare up at the ceiling, smiling because you just read something so beautiful and simultaneously feeling tears roll down your cheeks because now there is a deep fissure line running through your heart and you don't know if you'll ever be okay again?

this review (and an explanation for my recent absence) can be found here on starburnt reads

I was slightly scared to read A Thousand Perfect Notes, because I was so hyped to read it. I'm the kind of person who gets overly excited about a book when my friends recommend it, but also in the months I've been on Goodreads, I've learned to be more sceptical -- because going into a book with high hopes and ultimately being more disappointed than if I'd just lowered my standrads sucks.

but!!! this!!!! book!!!!!

what i enjoyed

— ▸ everything about beck keverich. look, i love my badass-tough-as-nails YA heroines, but they all start to blend together after a while. beck was so interesting to read about. i loved his brokenness, the complexities to his character and the way he looked at the world, a testament to the years of suffering he had been through. he is grumpy and annoying and i just want to cuddle him until the end of time.

— ▸the way the musical element is written was wonderful. music is one of the things i'm really weirdly specific about when i read; i've played music for most of my life and i love it with a passion, but that means that i also find it easy to call out unrealistic things. for example, in Wintersong, i kept rolling my eyes because half of the book sounded like a mash-up of a music textbook. but in ATPN, you can really tell that the author actually has experience with it, and it's beautiful and amazing.

— ▸this book is a summary of the aesthetic i love. it's starry nights spent on a hammock, feet barely brushing the grass. it's concert halls and sharp smiles and fists on brick, long walks and girls made of sunshine and wit. basically the inside of this book is just as gorgeous as the cover and i am living for it.

— ▸ it touches on such terrible, awful topics (abuse, relationships, mental illness) in such an eloquent way. maybe it's my previous experiences with watching abuse (not mine, but a friend's -- i don't want to go into detail) but i hurt so much for beck every time i saw an interaction between him and his mother. this book is so dark and haunting, and so utterly real and human. i felt rage and sorrow and compassion and i understood why beck felt the way he did, and how he both loved and hated the piano -- it was a part of him, but a part of him that he'd never had a choice about.

How can something be so beautiful and terrible at the same time?

— ▸i can't believe i haven't seen anyone talking about the references in this book. example:
Beck is unknowable.

unless my memory is really terrible, adam parrish is also unknowable (it's a famous quote). aka adam parrish from the raven cycle, who i love with all my heart! this made me so happy to see, and in the darkness of this scene, i found a smile on my face.

— ▸the ship = now 70% of my observable soul. honestly? it was so sweet and pure, and while i feel that it was a little sudden towards the end, and a little too convenient, it has made me feel like i just ate a cinnamon roll sprinkled with glitter and happiness.

— ▸ joey, beck's little sister, is an amazing character. she's such a typical little sister! i love how she isn't pure and sweet or flat, but she's just a little girl who doesn't know that the things she does are wrong because she's never been taught to do the right thing. the love that beck felt for her honestly made me want to cry; he wants to love her twice as hard to make up for the sin of hating his mother.

things i disliked

— ▸crying. i don't know what possesses me to read sad books at 2am so that i have to stifle the tears in my blankets, but i did it anyway. why would anyone write an ending like that? do authors enjoy watching my pain???

— ▸ on a serious note, i felt that we didn't really know august as well as we could have. i still loved her character, but something felt lacking; her life is a little too perfect, and she's a little too bright, a little too empty. don't get me wrong, i would still die for her, but i feel that not as much time was spent on developing her character as joey or beck.

— ▸ i'm grasping at straws here and i can't remember anything at the moment that i disliked, so i'll end the negatives here.

4.75 stars.
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i'll see you all on the other side, and by "the other side", i mean an alternate universe where this book had a happy ending and i can pretend that everything is fine.
Profile Image for Kat.
Author 9 books399 followers
February 9, 2022
I LOVED THIS BOOK! One of the absolute best character studies I have read this year. I am going to absolutely fail in describing how awesome and quirky it is. In short, Beck’s mother (the Maestro) was once an amazing pianist. Now Beck is forced to practice hours per day, and abused in between as he tries to protect his toddler sister. He meets August Bray, quirky dog-adopting girl from school and life slowly begins to change. The delight in reading this is the characters and the brilliant spot-on descriptions of life as a tortured musician. Beck is so bottled up, and yet so, so real, and you just want to hug him every time one of those terrible lunches is brilliantly described, and hug yourself with happiness that Joey has him, and he has August. I LOVED this so much I could fangirl over it for hours, and totally fail to describe its awesomeness. You just have to read.

Trigger Warnings:

Please excuse typos/name misspellings. Entered on screen reader.
Profile Image for Lara (Bookish_turtle).
261 reviews189 followers
July 16, 2018

I just want to put in that I had to take my glasses off to read this, because the tears make them foggy and salty and then I can't keep reading. One of the ultimate struggles of having glasses. I'm so thankful that I don't need them for for reading, otherwise I don't even know how it would have been physically possible for me to read this masterpiece of a novel.

Also, did I mention that this book has left me dead inside?!

Beck is so precious and he deserves so much better and basically every single time he thought a single thought it made me want to cry, so there's that...

And August is such a precious cinnamon roll and I love her and I am so grateful that she is a character that was written and she didn't fall into any of the tropes that I was so scared she would.

Joey is such a perfect sweetie and she deserves more in life.

August's family is so soft and sweet and I needed more of them!

Can I just mention, the third person present tense is my favourite type of book and they're basically nonexistent so I LOVED that!

Also, I really like short books, so I liked that it was short. BUT I ALSO HATE IT BECAUSE I NEEDED MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I can't write any more because I am dead inside.

Just kidding!!! Here's a spoiler tag with all my thoughts on the ending:
Profile Image for Xandra (StarrySkyBooks).
121 reviews152 followers
December 19, 2020
edit: 3.5 stars

You can read my full, spoiler-free review on my blog!

It is quite possible that this is the fastest I have ever completed a book. 

My Thoughts:  

Is my heart broken? Yes. Did I enjoy it? Absolutely. Did I cry? No, but I came thisclose. 

First, I would like to note that this book was just about everything I expected from C.G. Drews, based off of her blogging style at Paper Fury and other reviews I have seen online. A Thousand Perfect Notes was engaging, sad, and a bit violent. I came into this book with expectations and they were met pretty nicely. However, judging by the negative reviews I have seen about this book, I will say that if you have no history at all with C.G. Drews, then maybe it would be hard to know what to expect from this book. I read and loved this book because I knew what I was getting into, and it was exactly everything I needed to read at the moment. 


I read this Contemporary after months of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, so it was refreshing to come back into the real world for a bit. I had tried to read ATPN a couple of times before, but I was just not in the right headspace. However, when I picked it up again on May 29th, I quickly finished it in only two sittings, which is something I haven’t done in a long time. After the first chapter, I found myself attached to fragile Beck and precious little Joey, and I was constantly wondering what was going to happen next. 

The writing style is a bit quirky and different, and again, I expected nothing less from C.G. Drews. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not! But I could also see why some people might not like this. Either way, I actually enjoyed the writing style, and I think it contributed to grabbing my attention and allowing me to finish the novel so quickly. 

The plot by itself was interesting and not predictable. I had characters to root for, a villain to boo, and wishes and dreams to hope for. I laughed, I teared up, and I was sad throughout the course of ATPN. It was a bit of a rollercoaster! 


However, during the climax of the story, I felt like I was expecting a little bit… more? Like, I had heard so many things about how crushingly sad this book was, that I really expected to be absolutely crushed. And I was not! I liked it, but I was not smooshed like a butterfly. I came out just fine. 

There were also a few small scenes that I felt were perhaps a bit rushed. The character building was generally good, but I think I wanted to learn more about Beck’s history, his upbringing with Joey, what he remembers about first learning to play piano, and the Maestro’s background story. There were definitely a lot of emotions going on in this story, but maybe not enough background explanations. I wasn’t confused or anything – I just wanted more. 

Overall, I liked ATPN very much, and I only regret not reading it sooner! 

My thoughts about characters:  

Beck: I just felt so sad for Beck and his conflicting situation. I wanted to cry for him, and I wanted him to have everything he couldn’t have. There were a few times when I didn’t understand why he was making certain decisions, but overall, he was a good main character. 

Joey: For the first few lines, Joey was a bit annoying… but I quickly came to love her. I wanted to protect her cuteness as much as Beck did, and I really enjoyed seeing her interactions with basically everything. 

August: I don’t know, I think I wanted to know a little more about August. She was funny and cute, and an unrelentingly good friend to Beck, but I wanted to know why. By the end, I was very attached to her, but she could have had a little more background information as well. 

The Maestro: 😡

My Rating:

Um, how could I possibly rate this book? I don’t know exactly what to feel.

I was told that this book would destroy me, and while I did feel sad for a lot of it, I was not, in fact, destroyed. But maybe that was my fault, for setting my expectations too high.

⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️

3.5 out of 5 Stars for breaking my heart, but only a little bit.
CW for abuse, suicidal thoughts, some violence. 
Profile Image for Neeks.
136 reviews924 followers
October 17, 2018
If you're a reader of her blog or even if you just follow her beautiful bookstagram, you'll probably know that Cait from PaperFury is hilarious. Now, after finishing her debut, I've come to the conclusion that she is STILL hilarious, but she also likes to destroy you emotionally (I should've known tbh - she does want world domination). A Thousand Perfect Notes is about a boy named Beck, whose mother forces him to play the piano hour after hour, day after day. She forces him to practice so much that his hand bleed. She's bitter since losing her music career due to illness and all Beck wants to do is compose his own music. One day, he meets August who is full of life and love and she gives him hope.

Getting through this book was rough. I cried approximately 900 times and while it was un-putdownable, I did have to take the occassional breather. Beck is resilient, precious and incredibly pure and August is an absolute joy to read. She was so good-hearted and understanding but the one thing I don't understand is how she manages to be bare foot all the time. My main concern isn't even about her stepping on nasty things, but here in Australia, the ground gets REALLY FREAKING HOT in the summer. The no shoe thing aside, the dynamic between August and Beck was one of my favourite things about this book. Also, can I just say how much I adored Joey? Seeing how protective Beck was of her and how he just wanted to make her happy made me relate to my own little sisters (albeit, without the abuse) and it bought me such joy to read about.

This book explores abuse, domestic violence and friendship in a somewhat raw, unforgiving sort of way as the abuse/violence can get graphic at times (so fair warning for that before going into this book). August provided some light in the darkness and the way Beck and August's relationship developed was done perfectly. It was slow burn from friendship and I adored every second.

Cait's writing, as expected, was wonderful. This book had gorgeous writing with pinches of Cait thrown into it (like wonderful descriptions of cake) and at first, I was a little bit worried as I know exactly nothing about music, but the way Cait writes made it easy to understand and it was still written beautifully.

All in all, this book is wonderful. I was anticipating this from the moment it was announced and it delivered. It's hard-hitting and tough to read at times but it is definitely one of the best books I've read this year (possibly one of my favourite contemporaries ever too).
Profile Image for Emily Mead.
569 reviews
October 21, 2017
Being in the extremely privileged position of a CP to the glorious CAIT, I have in fact already read and loved this. You all will as well - trust me.
509 reviews2,414 followers
July 31, 2018
Picture this: You walk into a bookstore. You buy a book. You love the book. That book, my friends, is A Thousand Perfect Notes. What is there to love, you may ask? Well here's a list for all you doubters out there:

"Other people are born for nonexistence."

1. This book is so honest. Beck's mother is abusive--and I mean abusive. She does horrible things, just because she wants her son to live out the dreams she herself can no longer push through with them. This book shows the ugly side of abuse--and how sometimes you just can't fight for yourself even when you need to. It shows that there are always choices to be made, all with their own ups and downs.

"Life would be unbalanced without sharp words to stick in your ribs like a thousand little knives. Beck's here to fill the quota."

2. Beck is the cuddliest human teddy bear ever! Our hero is the opposite of every single brooding douchebag we've met in YA. He's sweet, caring, and he doesn't fight back. But that doesn't mean he's weak!!! He just knows when a battle shouldn't be fought, and I think that's incredibly brave.

3. Beck's little sister is such a gem! See, little Joey's sweet... sometimes. I love how realistic her character is--she doesn't have the best personality, being raised by an abusive mom. But she and Beck always look out for each other. They have the best dynamics, and I love how bubbly she was around him. See here, little kids can be 3-dimensional characters, too! Huzzah!

"Some people are born for sunlight and orange peel smiles and running on the beach and wild flowers in their hair."

4. I love August. Beck's love interest, August, does have that I-need-to-fix-you vibe going on, but for the first time in for-freaking-ever, I didn't find it annoying at all! I thought she was so authentic, and the cute kind of quirky. She loves cake (!!!), battered-up shoes (or, well, no shoes at all), and still gets fabulous grades that she works hard for. A true inspiration, this little lady!

"If you do not say hello, you do not need to say goodbye."

5. The romance was a hurricane, y'all. Beck and August's relationship wasn't always smooth-sailing. But it was genuine and delightful to read about! They became friends first, too, which gave them a good foundation. I just loved them so much together!

6. THE ENDING--you'll understand once you've read it. *spoiler free* The ending was just so beautiful and made me bawl my eyes out at 2:45 in the morning. 

*Note: I'm giving this book only four stars since it was a bit tough to get into, and there was just a bit too much purple prose for me. Overall, though, I highly, HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone!


This review, along with more bookish fun, can be found in my YA book blog, Aimee, Always.
More places to find me: Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Email
Profile Image for Evelina | AvalinahsBooks.
879 reviews446 followers
June 8, 2018
I am intensely flapping my arms and squawking like a poor abandoned pterodactyl baby at the excitement of actually having been able to read a review copy of A Thousand Perfect Notes! (Thanks for staying with my review after that sentence.) My emotions towards Cait's book can be described roughly as such, starting from when I found out she was publishing a book at all:

- oh wow! Cait is finally publishing one of her books, something I've been asking her about for ages (...WHEN, WHEN, WHEN)


- I know someone who's publishing a real, actual book, and I was there when it happened

- ...wait. What if... What if I could read it?

- But... but what if I don't like it?!

- I mean... wow, that would be awkward.

- But Cait's blog is like so awesome, so she clearly CAN write, right?

- But it YA. You don't like YA that much. You dread YA love stories. What if there's one??

- What if it's a cheesy one. What if it's sugary sweet and my eyes will roll back and stay there. WHAT IF.

- *hides in bushes*

And I've been hiding in the bushes ever since. Till it was like a month till the book comes out. And then I had an unexpected opportunity to grab at it, and I did, and... And, welp, I LOVED IT. I loved it so much, I'm giving it 5 stars, and guess what? I had nothing to worry about!!

Come read the full review – 5 Reasons To Read A Thousand Perfect Notes on my blog here!

I thank Hachette Children's Group for giving me a free copy of the book in exchange to my honest opinion. Receiving the book for free does not affect my opinion.

Read Post On My Blog | My Bookstagram | Bookish Twitter
Profile Image for R.F. Gammon.
524 reviews180 followers
August 3, 2018
This is Cait's book, and so OBVIOUSLY I've wanted to read it since I heard it was coming out (like a year ago? Wow it's been a long time). The positive reviews have been overwhelming, and I was almost nervous to read it since I tend to go against hype...but then I won it in a giveaway and decided to read it in one sitting once it arrived.

I read this book in TWO HOURS, people. No joke.

There is nothing easy about this book. It gets into the down and dirty of abuse and it's violent and bloody and heartbreaking and I had to look away from the page more than once. I felt such sorrow for Beck and Joey, and I love them both...and August and her unquenchable love for them and the way she never gave up on Beck even when he treated her horribly. He came around, which I appreciated. This book was not sunshine, lollipops, and rainbows in the least.

However, it did have some of the most beautiful scenes I can remember in any book for a while. Cait, as most of her followers know, is the Queen of Cake, and so there genuinely is a scene in this book where August and Beck cut school together to get cake. Which is such a Cait scene and I loved it so much. The band Twice Burgundy sounds amazing (and Cait confirmed that they are based on a combination of the Civil Wars and Imagine Dragons! So that's AWESOME because I love both of those bands).

Then there's the music. My goodness, the music.

I have never read a book that spoke to my musician heart like this before.

Cait is a pianist, and that much is very obvious just from reading this book. Song spills off the page, and I can HEAR the melody in every word. When Beck plays, his songs are real in my ears. His pain, his love-hate relationship with the piano, the fact that although he despises playing it he CANNOT STOP...I have never been FORCED to play the piano, but as someone who does play, I empathized SO MUCH. The love of music is clear in this book. And it's not the music that is the abuse...it's the way it's being used. I love it so so so much.

There were some minor content concerns (some cussing, most of it in German, as well as the inevitable violence of a book about abuse). But overall A Thousand Perfect Notes was a beautiful tribute to music, what family TRULY is, and the classical composers. Absolutely amazing. Well done, Cait.
Profile Image for gabi.
1,004 reviews24 followers
Want to read
February 2, 2018

Profile Image for Tan Markovic.
350 reviews138 followers
March 18, 2019
Review posted on my blog: www.booknerdtan.wordpress.com

‘Joey dragged a chair over to the table so she can sit properly and devour the cheese platter’
First and foremost (on a lighter note before things get deep) I would like to say that Joey is basically me in 5 year old form.

I loved everything about this book.
It was equal parts heartwarming and heartwrenching and I laughed as much as I cried.
The story was written so beautifully that it is hard to believe that this was the authors debut novel.
Books that contain characters which steal your heart from the get go are the best books in my opinion and this book did just that. I definitely regret not picking this up earlier!!


A precious, timid, overworked and downtrodden 15 year old boy who loves his little sister more than anything and will go to any lengths to protect
her. The way he looks out for Joey is probably the best thing about this book. The relationship between the two just heartwarming. There’s so many
instances throughout where he doesn’t even consider himself before Joey’s welfare even if that means the worst outcome for him. I also really
enjoyed the mystery around his real name in the first part of the novel.


A somewhat kooky teenage girl with a love for life, animals and Beck.
‘You’re weird. I’m weird. Why not?’
Hers and Beck’s relationship throughout the novel was so pure and sweet.
No matter how much Beck attempted to push her out of his dreary life, she was resilient and perservered until she got through to him and if that
isn’t true friendship then i don’t know what is. You could feel that her desire to stick by Beck and help him came from the sincerest of places.


This little cherub was witty, cute and absolutely hilarious. She made me laugh all the way through I absolutely adored her character. For a five year
old she was definitely feisty and determined beyond her years and she loved Beck just as much as he loved her.


I loved how these two characters welcomed Beck into their home when he was in trouble with open arms and warm hearts. I enjoyed seeing a
little moreof Augusts life and where she came from and how she came to be as carefree and caring as she is.

Having grown up amongst domestic abuse myself, I really feel that C.G. Drews did a very good job at portraying it in this novel.
The actions of the abuser was something which I really recognised and the atmosphere that Drews created when telling Beck’s story was
executed incredibly well. From the descriptions of Beck himself and the environment he was living in at home created such a vivid and
realistic image it very much felt like you were there with the characters the entire time you were reading.

Just….be prepared to cry some happy and sad tears and miss all the characters.
This YA debut was absolute perfection. I very much look forward to seeing more from this author in the future.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Netgalley, the author C.G. Drews and the publisher for this opportunity.
Profile Image for Alice.
229 reviews43 followers
June 28, 2018
I thought I wasn't going to like this when I read the first 30 pages, but then the story and characters grew on me.

The first character that grew on me a lot was Joey (Beck's little sister). Aw she's so cute. I was kind of meh on the main character Beck the whole way though because I just wanted him to rebel already. I did think he was going to fight back harder in the end. I feel like Beck didn't really have that much of a personality because he was so clouded with his situation the entire story. Another character I didn't really like at first is Beck's friend August. She's nice and exuberant, but it's kind of the same thing as with Beck in that they are both just not my favorites personality wise. The romance between them was a little too implied. It was ok.

I really do like this book. I just don't know how to make it sound really good because it's a better than average book on a lot of things, but I just kept wanting Beck to be more badass. Which is the whole point of the story, but he never hit the level of badass I wanted him to be. I always wanted to keep reading. I liked the characters. Lots of really intense scenes. This story was very consistent throughout with how much I liked it after I got through the beginning. It's just so consistently good. I never was mind blown though. It comes close on some intense scenes, but not quite.
Profile Image for Shannon (It Starts At Midnight).
1,189 reviews1,018 followers
June 7, 2018
You can find the full review and all the fancy and/or randomness that accompanies it at It Starts at Midnight

Today, since this is a "let's flail" review, we're going to just discuss the reasons I loved this, because when you're flailing, there are probably not any negatives, right? Right. So, here are some of the reasons that if you haven't already obtained this book (and why haven't you?) you really, really should.

The characters are precious and adorable and believably quirky. Okay, maybe I should say most of the characters, because I don't want to accidentally lump Beck's mom in with anyone precious. But let's talk about Beck, while we're at it: He is such a broken human, but also really good at his core, even though he doesn't really believe it. The only thing that I loved more than his adorable feels for August was his fierce protectiveness for his sister Joey. August, in her own right, is delightful. And she seems to bring out the best in people, which frankly is refreshing. Oh, and even though they're kind of minor characters, her family is fabulous and maybe we have a spinoff about them or something, eh?

Beck's plight was eerily relatable. I mean, okay, perhaps not to the extent, but certainly the context? Beck and I can't have been the only ones who felt a ton of parental pressure to do certain things in certain ways. My dad was so tough on us, and a lot of times I felt like he maybe was trying to live vicariously- exactly as Beck's mom is. Thankfully, I didn't face abuse like Beck, but of course there are kids who do. Still, I related to him so much- when you wonder how much of your life is just living someone else's plans.

And I did worry about not being able to relate to Beck because of music. Music scares me sometimes because I don't understand it? But it's fine- it's written in a way that you don't have to have a masters degree in piano to understand exactly what is happening.

The writing, as you'd expect, is fabulous. We know Cait can write, yes? If you didn't before, trust me, you will after you read this. I highlighted so many passages on my Kindle that the whole damn thing was practically turning colors. So many witty lines, so many thoughtful and emotive parts. If you appreciate quality writing, you're in the right place.

Let's talk about the feels! Ohhh my emotions! I admit that I foolishly didn't realize that this book would be so emotionally powerful, but it was. I cried, and a book hasn't made me cry in a long time (because I might be turning into some kind of cyborg, idk?), but it wasn't all emotionally heavy. I laughed, and I felt a ton of empathy for Beck, and I was pissed as hell at his damn mom. See, emotions galore!

I actually lost track of time while reading and that seriously does not ever happen. Like I looked up at the Kindle and somehow I'd gotten to 85% and two hours had passed and oops? It really drew me in immediately, and I was apparently very invested in finding out what became of these characters, so there you have it.

There's cake. Because this is a Cait book, I feel like I'd be disappointed if there wasn't cake? But there is so you don't need to worry.

Bottom Line: It is as awesome as you think it will be. That's all you need to know.
Profile Image for Dannii Elle.
2,064 reviews1,473 followers
February 23, 2018
Actual rating 3.5/5 stars.

Beck's violent mother stifles his daily live and his creativity. Her imposed rules of piano coming before school, friends, and happiness leads him to feel estranged from his peers and the world at large. But when Beck meets August, he is introduced to a life lead by happiness and is given the option to approach what is missing in his own life, and figure out exactly why.

It is hard to separate a book from its author and my initial interest in this stemmed from the person who penned this, rather than from the synopsis. I did also find that the synopsis somewhat ruined this book for me. I would rather have known less facts about this novel and would have probably then found the abundant sorrow in this, more deeply touching.

I also found, early on the book, that the reader is told of Beck’s fears rather than being shown them. The book opens with Beck informing the reader of his daily routine and the inner-anger he struggles against unleashing on his omnipotent mother. When we were actually introduced to her character and shown heart-wrenching examples of her wrath, it made it far harder for me to feel the desired shock and sorrow such a scene was supposed to emit. I found the story built up far too quickly and would have rather had a prolonged introduction to Beck’s character, divorced from his familial worries.

I found August’s character was my ultimate favourite aspect of this novel. I found her to be the most intriguing part of this story from her very introduction into it. Her constantly shoeless state, her ‘Save the Whales’ t-shirt and her “soliloquy on tree-frogs” made her immediately interesting. We were introduced to her character in a small series of images that worked up to slowly reveal the entire character. This honed my interest, as opposed to learning of Beck’s greatest struggles before we got to know his individual character, which at first did the opposite.

That being said, my initial hesitations were quickly forgotten as I was soon immersed in this troubling story-line. I thought the author dealt with the harrowing subject matters in an extremely thought-provoking yet sensitive light. I found the emotions I was earlier missing were soon in abundance and I was immersed in the narrative. This a tragic book, but not one without moments of tenderness and hope. I found that the dark and light moments, as well Beck's warring emotions, worked to heighten each scene and every feeling. This interplay of opposites became a factor in the power of this book's story and my ultimate, overall enjoyment of it.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to the author, C. G. Drews, and the publisher, Orchard Books.
Profile Image for Emma.
931 reviews888 followers
July 23, 2018
This debut novel is very well done. After just a few pages I could feel myself caring for Beck and Joey and I really wanted them to get out of the horrible home situation they found themselves in.
Even if it’s a short book (under 300 pages) all the characters were well characterised, even Beck’s mother. Needless to say I didn’t like her but I appreciated that the author told us her story so that we could understand what these kids were dealing with.
August was a cinnamon roll and for Beck she truly was a ray of hope in times of darkness. I also really liked the sibling relationship between Joey and Beck, this boy was basically raising his little sister without any help.
One of the main themes of this novel is child abuse. In the novel Beck’s mother is violent towards him and
It was a good read, really recommend.
Profile Image for mags.
200 reviews97 followers
Want to read
October 21, 2017
*banging pots together*
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