A Thousand Perfect Notes Paperback – 7 Jun. 2018
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What an incredible book, truly magnificent - and it's fantastic to see YA discussing issues it seems to have shied away from in recent years., No Safer Place
Viscerally violent from the opening sentence, authentically raw, and painful to read at times, this is a superbly told, emotionally charged story of obsession, abuse and the wonderful, terrible power of music both to destroy and, ultimately, to redeem., Teach Secondary (online)
Moving and hopeful and completely brilliant - this is a fantastic debut and I can't wait to see more from C. G. Drews., Rachel Meier - Canterbury Waterstones
Music and its transformative power. First love and its intense sweetness. Domestic violence and its pernicious enforcing of secrets. How does one create a magical and powerful story from such disparate ingredients? Well, read on. A Thousand Perfect Notes is a read of great intensity on multiple levels., The Book Bag
...it's heartbreaking and everything I never knew I needed., Ilsa - Whisper of Ink
A Thousand Perfect Notes can only be described as utterly disheartening and powerful. [...] I can't wait to read more of what C.G. Drews has up her sleeve. -- Bex Clare, Autumn Frost
This is a gripping story [...] Please go out and buy this if you can. It is so heartbreakingly wonderful. -- Steph Elliott, A Little But a Lot
...it is hard-hitting at times,but it is also full of hope, possibility and determination and it will have you flinching, crying, holding your breath and rushing to turn the page., Rachael at Waterstones Altrincham
I would recommend this book to pretty much anyone who wants a hard-hitting contemporary read..., Book Browsing Blog
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For me, it struck the right balance between humour and darkness, and the relationships Beck had with his sister and with August were beautiful to watch play out in all their complicated, messy glory, even if it also had me tearing up a little as he tried to look out for Joey even when it was beyond hard, and despite everything going on in his life. The ending was part heartbreaking, part hopeful. It was clear in the build up to the end that there was no way Beck would be able to get all his happy endings. I'm glad the author didn't chicken out of showing that, and the choice he made to me felt like the right one.
There were some things I didn't like as much; some parts needed a little much suspension of disbelief, e.g. August's character seemed a little too extreme, too odd. Some aspects of the abuse storyline felt a little off, too; not in terms of the dynamics between Beck and his family or how he reacted, which were painfully real, but how it fit in with the wider setting and other character interactions. Since I'm fortunate enough never to have been in that situation I don't want to call it unrealistic, but it didn't sit well while I was reading.
Overall, I'd probably go 3.5 stars, but I'm definitely going to be looking out for the author's next book.
The characters were definitely one of my favourite aspects of the book. Joey is a little bundle of joy and I loved her. The sibling relationship was great and shone right from the outset. It was obvious that Cait was writing the kind of characters she enjoys reading about: those cinnamon boys and sassy girls were giving me life. I also thought it was very clever to constantly use the term 'the Maestro' as it really helped with the depersonalisation of that particular character.
Everyone (including the author herself) said that this would be brutal but I wasn't expecting to have my feels shredded from the very first chapter! It was an emotional rollercoaster and I just wanted to wrap everyone up in fluffy blankets and feed them all the foods.
I cannot express how much love I have for this. Beck, August and Joey have all carved themselves a place in my heart and there they will remain. I knew that Cait's debut would not disappoint; having been a long-time fan of her blog, I could see that her voice was delightfully clear in every sentence. This book was so authentically HER and I can't wait to read more from her.
Beck is a talented pianist whose skill doesn't live up to his mother's and his own creativity is stifled by the regiment of tradition.
When Beck reluctantly lets August into his life, he becomes privy to a world of love, happiness and freedom, something absent in his own life. As Beck's strength grows, he discovers the power of the music he has kept hidden within him and he learns his choices are his to make but they come at a great cost from his violent mother. I liked the contrast between Beck and August or "Rain and sunshine." She was quite extreme but why not? Beck longed to be free from the claustrophobic world and with free-spirited August he could taste it. I think the story is one of the contrasts like the black and white notes of the piano, I would hate to see her character diluted.
The child abuse themes are not easy reading but they were tackled head-on and necessary to the story. I have already recommended A thousand Perfect Notes and I look forward to the next book.
In the first few chapters, I was a bit shocked by the degree of violence in this novel, but I quickly grew to understand it. It's really interesting to read from the POV of such a fragile character as Beck was made to be. I loved August's character, and that she never left when she might have had many reasons to leave.
In normal books, there is always this moment when the friend or love interest of the main character basically just gives up and abandons the character and then there is a huge scene of reunion at the end. But this book was a bit more realistic. And it was great. I think we all fell in love with Joey's character too, because she is so gorgeous!
And Beck is the most relatable character for me ever! Thank you, C.G.Drews for giving us such a gem of a book!
Top international reviews
What would you do when the person who should cherish you has nothing than her disappointment over you to show?
He is the prodigy child his mother tries to bend and make an ideal copy of her younger self.
No friends, no time, nothing is important, just that he plays the perfect notes on his piano.
But what happens when this strange girl without shoes in your class pushes trough his well built barriers and doesn‘t let him alone?
There is not a lot to say to this debut novel because it‘s wonderful written. I read so many YA books where I didn‘t even catch the half of the feelings I had by this beautiful piece. The author has a wonderful way to catch the pain and hopelessness of the protagonist. I could relate to him from the very first page until the last one, why he couldn‘t handle the situation differently and how much he still tried to protect his sister in his situation. Generally in most YA books, when abuse is mentioned, there is rather a fast paced approach of it or a matter of let the character get over it because yeah it‘s so easy duh way, but not here.
A great story to read.
Das Buch ist stark von Beck als Hauptfigur getrieben. Man merkt ihm den Einfluss seiner Mutter extrem an und das hat Spuren in allen Bereichen hinterlassen. Er hat kein Selbstvertrauen, kennt nichts anderes als das Klavier und hat dementsprechend auch keine Ambitionen, etwas anderes zu tun. Er wagt es nicht. Woran das liegt erfährt man als Leser sehr schnell und es brach mir direkt etwas das Herz - und das war bei weitem nicht das einzige Mal.
Beck ist mir direkt ans Herz gewachsen und ich fühlte mit ihm mit und wollte nur noch, dass alles für ihn gut wird. Das gleiche gilt auch für die anderen Charaktere. Seine 5-jährige Schwester Joey ist fantastisch und ich liebe sie und auch August ist toll. Sie lernt Beck zwar wegen eines Schulprojektes kennen, aber sie beschließt, seine Freundin zu sein. Sie weigert sich, ihn in Ruhe zu lassen - egal wie oft er ihr sagt, dass sie keine Zeit miteinander verbringen könnten - und versucht, sich um ihn zu kümmern, auch wenn sie nicht weiß, was los ist. Außerdem hat sie neun Hunde und diverse andere Haustiere und kauft ihm Kuchen; die perfekte Freundin also.
Das Buch ist sehr emotional und darauf sollte man vorbereitet sein. Ich war es nicht, obwohl ich durch die Meinung anderer Leser bereits hätte gewarnt sein sollen. Es handelt sich nicht um ein fluffiges, fröhliches Buch, aber trotzdem gibt es positive Elemente, allen voran die Interaktionen zwischen den Charakteren, von denen ich bereits geschwärmt habe.
Eine Geschichte, die mir mehr als nur ein mal das Herz gebrochen, mich aber auch oft zum Lächeln gebracht hat, und gerade deshalb absolut lesenswert ist. Beck ist eine fantastisch entwickelte Figur und ich habe es geliebt, die Aspekte seines Charakters kennenzulernen.
And I utterly and irrevocably loved it!!!
A Thousand Perfect Notes is the story of a boy named Beck who is being crushed under the weight of his parent's expectations -- expectations that, if Beck doesn't fulfill, will exact dire consequences from the "Maestro" (how Beck refers to his parent in his head).
The heart-wrenching thing is that Beck doesn't actually hate the career, the general arena, that he is being pushed into. He quite loves it, in fact. But how CAN you love something that's been the source of all your misery? How can you love something where one single mistake in it can eradicate the value of your entire existence in your "Maestro's" eyes -- and, consequently, in your own. But then, how can you be anything more than the sum of those unreachable expectations if that is the only thing you were ever allowed near all your life?
And then there's his sister, Joey, who is the one bright spot in his life and all of five years old. He loves her fiercely, is endlessly frustrated by her as only a much older sibling can feel, but also does everything in his limited power to ensure that she can continue being as frustrating and energetic and herself as she pleases.
This is only the tip of the iceberg though. For, there is also August and her parents. And finally Jan, who possibly had the least amount of scene-time in the whole story (next to August's parents) and still manages to make you adore him.
And that's the essence of this book, actually: The characters. And whether you meet them for a few mere pages or for the most amount of time the story can afford to have them, they win your heart and make you feel as though you've always known them.
The abuse that is portrayed in this book is realistic while also being handled carefully. It's not the entire sum of the book, nor does it escalate unbelievably, but the undercurrent of its effects is subtly present wherever Beck is, and, even more subtly, where Joey is.
More than that though, this book is unflinchingly kind and tender. It is not unrealistic, it is not overdone. And yet, this YA tale is one of the kindest I've ever read.
I could probably write a lot more about this book, A Thousand Perfect Notes, but then I might be here all day (and, not to mention, might slip a few unintentional spoilers). So I'll end my review here, and just say that if you want an emotional, kind, and beautifully character-driven book, you'll want to read A Thousand Perfect Notes.
Beck's mother, termed the Maestro, is physically and emotionally abusive, forcing him to play Chopin for hours and putting his playing above school, friendships, and even his health. Through his friendship with August, Beck discovers that there is more to life, but how can he convince the Maestro of this?
Drews handles a difficult subject well in this heartbreaking, but ultimately satisfying, debut.
Content warning: physical and emotional abuse, self harm ideation.
- definitely the best line of the whole book
Have you ever read a book that you then need to put away for several days so that you can process what it did to your heart? This is one of those books.
A Thousand Perfect Notes is about an abused teenager who is basically only living for the piano. It's about him meeting someone who actually cares about him and this girl just won't let him go. It's about his family life kind of imploding and it's about friendship and what family should be and difficult choices and what obsession can mean to everyone involved.
I honestly want to give this five stars but I've been so critical with other books this year that I just can't and it pains me.
Beck and August are such wonderful children. Beck isn't exactly loving to those around him but he's so great and needs happiness and I immediately felt so deeply for him. He made me cry like 15 times, okay? August is sunshine and caring and 5646 pets and I really want a person like her in my life.
They are complicated kids who have been through stuff and their relationship isn't easy and it takes a long time to get *somewhere* but that felt so realistic and it hurt my heart.
Beck has basically the worst family life ever, his mother is terrible, he is not allowed to care about any important things and she doesn't do so either and it also has effects on his young sister who he loves so much. Everything about this just made so much sense to me, I don't know how else to say it.
Also, as a German the wonderful insults and other phrases that are thrown in there made me feel incredibly happy. I didn't expect this at all but I just really loved it.
What I wasn't quite as happy with is the school - it just felt so unrealistic to me how the teachers are and how little anyone seems to care about anything, but maybe that's just because of my own experiences - and I'm not 100% satisfied with the ending. I mean, most of it was AMAZING but there's a part of me that says "uhm, excuse me, why didn't xyz happen"
Still, A Thousand Perfect Notes a great book, I can't wait to read more of the author's books and I hope I will fall in love with the other complicated and wonderfully (and heartbreakingly) original characters she comes up with.
- Sounds like: thunderous bass notes contrasted with light, airy notes
- Tastes like: delicious, healthy cake (yes, that is a thing)
- Smells like: dreams, nightmares, and friendships
- Feels like: a thousand perfect notes
Side note: C.G. Drews’s blog is very humorous and true.
P.S. it's also a loose fairytale/historical retelling ... which is just extra fun!
Usually young adult books aren't my cup of tea anymore. But this one swept me off my feet without me even noticing. Just like the music in Becks head this book was in my head the whole, sadly way to short time it took me devour it. C.G. Drews style of writing is charming, colorfull and for a while I forgott about the world around me and was just there.
And while its magical and sweet and charming at some times the book also is hard and sad and you fear for all the characters. It's a tast of what it feels like to live in a broken home. If you're looking for a rolercoasterride, go ahead, buy it, you wont regret it!
Now I need The Boy Who Steels Houses, because Caits writing (her writing is perfection) is my new addiction.
Beck’s mother is violent to him and forces him to play the piano. Beck is drowning in this world where he doesn’t get to decide anything or even want anything. Then he meets August, he was not expecting her but she unlocks something in him.
At the beginning, August and Beck made me think of Pudge and Alaska from Looking for Alaska (by John Green); and I mean this as a compliment 😊
Anyway I loved this book better; it was simple but felt so authentic; the violence made my heart lurch! Anything is so well written and subtle. There is no sensationalism or exaggerated plot twist, even the way the feelings are described is moderate which makes it even more heartwarming. One of my favourite book of 2018!
I discovered Cait, the author, thanks to her Instagram page (@paperfury) where she displays her irrationnal love for books of every shape, colour and size, with a sense of humour that particularly resonated with me. When I learned she was about to drop her debut novel, I told myself "I must read this". And I was everything but disappointed. You will recognise the tone she uses in her posts (blog and insta) with her peculiar sense of rythm and dry/dark humour. Beck is a cinnamon bun of a character and August is so radiant and shiny she could replace the sun. And I'm not even talking about Joey here... If the characters are really moving, the actual story is soooo good too. This is a book that is just right on day to day life or even bigger dramas. I laughed and I cried and all in all, I felt a lot. Please, do yourself a favour and read it. And if you want to try before you buy, check out Cait's intagram and blog !
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