Saturday, July 16, 2011

Jessica Martinez. VIRTUOSITY

Carmen Bianchi is a seventeen-year-old violin prodigy. Her life has consisted of practicing, going to lessons and winning competitions. The only "normal" part is her friendship with her tutor, Heidi. This suits Carmen fine, since the biggest competition of her life is coming soon and if she wins it, she'll be set for life. Winning the Guarneri would garner prestige, a world tour, and money, but it would also successfully push her past child-prodigy status to successful career violinist.

A few weeks before the semifinals, Jessica decides to spy on her toughest competitor, Jeremy King. She waits outside of the the symphony hall to get a glimpse of him after rehearsal. When he comes out, she's shocked to see that he no longer resembles his publicity photos in the least. He's grown up. Annoyingly, she finds herself attracted to him. He notices her too.

They begin emailing each other and then go on a date. Carmen is torn. He's her competition. She's supposed to hate him. They're supposed to hate each other. Only one person can win the Guarneri. If they continue to see each other, how would it feel afterwards she wins? But she is drawn to him. They are so much alike and no one understands her like he does. Then her mom tells her that Jeremy doesn't really like her at all. He's trying to mess with her mind. Carmen ends the relationship. But not before Jeremy asks her a difficult question that messes with her desire to win.

The pressure from her mom, the pressure from Jeremy, the expectations she puts on herself all build up until Carmen isn't sure she knows who she is anymore.

I loved this! The moody, longing atmosphere kept me coming back. Whenever I put it down, I couldn't wait to get back to it. I love the connection between Carmen and Jeremy. I loved the insights into the mind of a violinist. I could feel the pressure and expectations on Carmen, as much as if they were on myself.

This is the first novel from Jessica Martinez. What an exciting new YA author! While reading this, I had to wonder if she was a musician, since the knowledge seemed authentic. Lo and behold, she was! You can find out more about her here!

My copy is an advance copy. The book is due out in October. Put it on your "to read" list. You won't regret it!