Tag Archives: music

Speechless by Lindsey Lanza

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Speechless by Lindsey Lanza

Lanza, Lindsey. Speechless. self-published. 340 pp. ISBN 979-8218076191 $16.99

**

Lucy, a writer of fairy tale spinoffs for teens, is flying across the country to move in with her college roommate. She is literally at the airport and getting ready to board her delayed flight when her bestie CANCELS on her. Henry, a tall and handsome Brit, lands in the seat next to her after a stranger is mean to her service dog. Henry just happens to be her favorite composer! He promptly invites Lucy and Rowan to come and stay with him and his motley crew of musicians in Malibu. It becomes a seven dwarves-like tale, with Lucy cooking up a storm for Surfer (Graham), Flirty (Jayce), Quiet (Preston) and Surly (Craig). At one point there is an authorial intrusion of writer Lucy commenting her life is like the plot of a romance novel…

Chapters are told in alternating points of view from Henry and Lucy’s points of view. Lucy is suffering from some undisclosed condition that warrants the service dog, and Henry seems to be not only obsessive or ADHD, but may also have some crippling social anxieties. Lanza does utilize the music motif well, staging the plot in terms of a classical arrangement with movements, finale and encore.

I nearly gave up early in this novel when Henry was described as a cross between two actors I’ve never heard of. At the least, this is bad writing because it runs the risk of becoming dated AND limits the audience, but at worst, it’s just lazy. I gave up in chapter 17 when Graham defines Lucy as “normal” and Henry as “not normal” based on their behavior and neuroses. There has been so much work done to destigmatize mental illness and to reframe disability that these words have no place in contemporary narrative, and a competent editor would have noted this and redirected their author. At this point I recognized that Speechless was self-published and put it down for good.

I received a free advance reader’s review copy of #Speechless from #NetGalley.

The Music Teacher by Barbara Hall

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The Music Teacher by Barbara Hall

Barbara Hall. The Music Teacher.

When divorcee violinist Pearl takes on a new student, Hallie, she is delighted to discover a rare diamond in the rough: this teenage orphan has perfect pitch and an innate sense of how to imbibe music with emotion. Hallie clearly escapes from her abysmal living situation with relatives into her music. Pearl knows there is something odd going on, evidenced by the chip on her shoulder and bruise on her wrist, but isn’t sure what to do–confront? report? remain silent? When Pearl finally makes her choice, she has to live with the consequences of her decision.

The voice of Pearl is strong and authentic: sharp and edged with attitude and a dash of angst. The pacing is perfect. The supporting cast, mostly the other people who work at the music shop with Pearl, are richly drawn; Hall conveys a lot about character with just a few carefully chosen details. Although this is a title for adults, Pearl’s philosophical ruminations on art and sex and music may be compelling for the teen demographic that wrestles with just these sorts of definitions as they form identity.

The story is told in present tense, with Pearl backtracking into the past to tell the reader about Hallie. The time shifts, though masterfully done, may stump some readers