Hello humans! Today I’m reviewing one of the most anticipated YA contemporary titles in the book blogging community. This particular title comes from one of our own, the lovely (and terrifying) C. G. Drews otherwise known as Paper Fury. I’ve been following Paper Fury on Twitter since the very early days of my blog so I was delighted to learn she was going to be published and then even more delighted to get the opportunity to read her book A Thousand Perfect Notes before the release date. It’s always lovely to get to support people you know (albeit through the internet) and I’m thrilled to get to write this review.
An emotionally charged story of music, abuse and, ultimately, hope.
Beck hates his life. He hates his violent mother. He hates his home. Most of all, he hates the piano that his mother forces him to play hour after hour, day after day. He will never play as she did before illness ended her career and left her bitter and broken. But Beck is too scared to stand up to his mother, and tell her his true passion, which is composing his own music – because the least suggestion of rebellion on his part ends in violence.
When Beck meets August, a girl full of life, energy and laughter, love begins to awaken within him and he glimpses a way to escape his painful existence. But dare he reach for it?
Content warning: Child abuse, self-harm (or thoughts about it).
Caveat time (we all love caveat time, don’t we?). I don’t tend to read this genre, it’s not my preferred kind of read so all my perceptions are going to be slightly skewed as a result. Obviously, it wouldn’t be fair to just roll with my own biases and to write a negative review (especially since I did enjoy the book). So, I’ve tried to write this and to view the book without letting too much of my own biases colour this, either the fact that I am slightly acquainted with the author or the fact that I don’t typically read this kind of book.
I had a couple of concerns going into this book. One was that it was going to be a little too harrowing if that makes sense? Sometimes books that explore child abuse can feel very voyeuristic and that makes me somewhat uncomfortable. In this book, there are some graphic descriptions of the child abuse that Beck undergoes which will make readers uncomfortable. However, it never feels as though this is being shared for entertainment value, so I think a good balance was struck.
My other concern was for the character of August, that she would be another example of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl (MPDG) trope which is so overdone. Other people all over the internet have summarised the issues with this trope far better than I ever could so if you don’t know about this I would highly recommend doing a quick search and seeing what you find.
Anyway, back to the point. In a lot of ways August is a MPDG, she ticks a lot of those boxes. I think it’s subverted to an extent, and August certainly gets her moments to show who she is as a character. I think it’ll depend on what mindset you read it in, and how you interpret some of the dialogue as to whether August is a MPDG or not? But isn’t that kind of the fun thing about books, that we all read them differently? Magical. *Fills the air with glitter*.
It’s a third person narrative that reads very poetically at times (ok quite a lot of the time) which, again is something that you should decide for yourself if you enjoy. I believe it fits with the character, adding to his introverted, repressed creative side.
Be prepared to get very sad (I wept, but I cry at everything), because this book goes to some dark places. However, there are some very hopeful moments (and also dogs) which I think helps to lift it from that sense of voyeurism that I mentioned earlier to being a complete story. Again, a personal thing, but having grown up in a very musical family and still being very musical myself (a reminder that if you’re in Edinburgh at the end of August you can come see the musical I’m composing for) those moments of music really spoke to me.
Should you read this? If you’re in the right place to read this I would definitely recommend. As a community, we’ve been burned somewhat by big personalities online getting publishing deals but in this instance, I think it is definitely a match made in…if not heaven then somewhere nearby.
My rating: 4/5 stars
I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? Are you going to read A Thousand Perfect Notes? Let me know in the comments below!