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