Publisher: Simon & Schuster Childrens Books
Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. Two weeks before the most important violin competition of her career, she has bigger things to worry about - like growing out of that suffocating "child prodigy" label, and no disappointing her mother. But it isn't just the wrong time. It's the wrong guy. Jeremy is Carmen's most talented rival, and according to her mother, he's only interested in one thing: winning.
He isn't the only one.
Carmen is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to control performance nerves. But what started a year a go as an easy fix is now a hungry addiction. Her mother insists now is not the time to quit, but Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of doing what she's told.
When the darker side of the classical music industry and her mother's ambition collide, Carmen must choose between her career and her love for music.
A big thanks to Simon & Schuster Australia for sending me a review copy of this book!
VIRTUOSITY is a great YA story that is beautifully written. With drama blended into the lulled pages of the scary-but-very-competitive world of classical music, the author, Jessica Martinez, captured every bit of emotion and reality in every way I hoped she would. Just feeling the intensity of the music and reading about the life Carmen possesses, I was one of those people who literally wanted to be sitting in the front row and to experience everything she was experiencing center stage.
Judging by the storyline you can already tell Carmen's life is an interesting one. And a hectic one at that. She has already won a Grammy. She is considered one of the best violinists. And she's the one person fellow musicians would find hard to beat in any sort of competition. But when the Guarneri competition looms over her head, coming with it is the unexpected competitor of the handsome and talented Jeremy King. This boy is everything that Carmen isn't but much to her surprise he understands her in a way her own family cannot. As their relationship is based on checking out the competition, things start to swerve into an impossible romance between two rivals of the music world.
I finished the book in one sitting and I loved every moment of it. Carmen's character was very likeable and despite her controlled circumstances - what with her controlling mother - I still found her a character easily appealing. And I hope other readers do too. But what I most admired about her character was her fierce determination and dedication to her music career, and how it affects the people in her life. Even with a possible drug addiction (drugs for her nerves), I was still enthralled by how Carmen battles the rights and wrongs of her very pressuring world. It was very enjoyable and I wanted more of it. As for Jeremy King, he was everything you want in a love interest, especially in a story like this one. Sure there was a time where he said a particular something to Carmen that surprised me and I thought "You didn't just say that, did you?", but this british lover boy will make girls hearts flutter because his main purpose in the storyline was break Carmen out of her shell - her world of music - and bring her somewhere that she's never been before - to experience true freedom for herself and herself alone.
Overall VIRTUOSITY is a book you don't want to miss out on. Being far more than just your ordinary YA love story, the book teaches 'us' readers that there's more to life than being perfect and it's a superb debut novel for Jessica Martinez. One book that I think she should be really proud of writing. While the ending may have concluded a little too quickly for my liking, but it sent off the ideal message for me which I won't spoil because you will need to read for yourself in order to feel the way I felt about this book. So well done to the author!