Received from NetGalley for review.
‘What he wants most in the whole world is to cut off his own hands.’
Some books break you; make you feel so much it hurts, make you cry, and rage. And then they restore you, not with perfect endings or happily ever afters, but with a little bit of hope and a few good people. A Thousand Perfect Notes is exactly that kind of book for me, the kind that hurts, that heals, and stays with you long after you’ve finished reading. If you struggle with stories about child abuse, however, proceed with caution.
Beck’s situation is tragic; his mother is psychotic and abusive, trying to live vicariously through him after a stroke leaves her unable to play the piano as she once did. She has broken him completely and destroyed every ounce of his self-worth – insulting his abilities, refusing to ever tell him he’s good enough, withholding food if he doesn’t meet her standards, beating him when he messes up. He lives in constant terror, isolated from everyone except his five-year-old sister, Joey, who he loves and protects from his mother – the Maestro. Until August. A free-spirited girl he’s partnered with for an essay, whose sunshine soul manages to slowly break down the barriers Beck has put in place.
I absolutely adored Beck, Joey, and August. I wanted so badly to wrap Beck and Joey up in cotton wool and look after them; nobody should have to live in a home where beatings seem normal and there’s never enough food. The very rare moments of kindness (if they can be called that) that the Maestro showed made her all the more terrifying, leaving Beck spiralling into thoughts wondering if she could ever love him – my heart went out to him, I can’t even imagine what it must be like to have to live like that and still desperately want approval from the person hurting you.
August and her family remined me so much of mine – intense with love, with food, with taking in waifs and strays of all varieties. August refuses to let Beck shy away from her, no matter how rude and disinterested he seems, because she likes him, she finds him interesting, and she knows that not everything is as it seems on some level. Yes, she’s drawn to the abused, the broken, but, ultimately, she’s just a good person with a good heart, and a lot of love to give. And I love that Beck and August’s story didn’t culminate in some kind of ‘loves heals all’ narrative because it doesn’t – it can help, having someone who loves you, who cares, but it’s never going to undo years of abuse and degradation, and make everything immediately better.
This is such a wonderful, heart-breaking, and important book full of music, obsession, and abuse. Beck and Joey’s story is tragic, more so because it is a reality for so many people in this world. It’s not an easy read, but it is so worth it.
‘You are worth more than a thousand perfect notes.’
Read: May 22nd-26th 2018