The Lucy Variations
by Sara Zarr

It could be a depressing thing to believe, at sixteen, that your best years were behind you. Especially when the people closest to you seemed to agree.

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 the Beck-Moreau family expectations. Then Gus gets a new piano teacher who is young, kind, and interested in helping Lucy rekindle her love of piano. But when you’re used to performing for sold-out audiences and world-famous critics, can you ever learn to play just for yourself?

When I was writing The Lucy Variations I often thought of it as “my Madeleine L’Engle book.” Though the protagonist is sixteen, the novel is set in a rarefied world (moneyed San Francisco), it’s full of classical music, and features complicated relationships between teens and adults–all hallmarks of L’Engle’s work that I loved as a young reader. Also, I’m not a musician but my parents were, and this book gave me a chance to explore that as well as my own experiences as mentor and mentee.