Title: Broken Strings
Author: Maria Farrer
Genre: YA contemporary
Length: 352 pages
Published by: Scholastic
Source: received for review (thanks, Scholastic!)
It is the story of a brilliant young violinist, her determination and struggle to achieve her dreams and the discovery that she is at the center of an extraordinary secret that has pulled apart her family for two generations. Jess, a talented 17-year-old violinist, suffers from stage-fright as she auditions for a place at a prestigious music school. Her family do not have enough money for her to continue to study so when she fails, she vows not to play again. Until her wealthy grandmother – estranged from her family since Jess’s mother fell pregnant – shows up at their doorstep and promises six months of tuition in exchange for Jess moving to live with her. Once ensconced in her grandmother’s rich, but empty, life she starts to uncover the mystery of why her grandmother never spoke to her mother again, and the secret which tore her family apart.
Today I’m going to be reviewing this book with my charming sister Sophie.
You may have heard things about her. For instance that a) when we watch movies together, I’m not allowed to pick animated movies or Harry Potter.
But you also might have heard that b) she bought me books for my birthday, so I guess she’s alright.
Sophie: and c) I give the best book reviews
Emily: you wish. Anyway, let’s talk about Broken Strings. You gave it five stars.
Emily: so first of all we have our main character, Jess, who is kind of a brat (like Sophie, incidentally). She’s sarcastic in the most pigheaded way possible, and runs off with her grandmother to play violin after never having met this woman in her life.
Sophie: I liked the sarcasm, but she was kind of a wuss. And a user. Like, she only went off with her grandmother because she had the money to fuel her dream. Otherwise, why else would she have gone? But she also had tantrums about her music teacher and god knows what else and it’s just very annoying, and unusual, seeing as though she has such a sarcastic, independent personality.
Emily: This is the point where we find gifs.
(our character Jess)
Emily: So you gave it five stars, which is two more stars than I did, which means you must have liked it. (dear readers, she’s given 5 stars to only like 8 books in her lifetime, so this is kind of a big deal)
Sophie: More like 15.
Emily: *types this*
Sophie: How dare you. I really didn’t like Stefan, one of the male leads, and I also didn’t really like Charlie, the other male lead.
Emily: Oh my gosh, woman, what DID you like about this book?
Sophie: I dunno. I just liked reading it and it was a quick read and idk.
Emily: My eloquent sister, everyone.
Sophie: I’m very articulate.
Emily: Hmmm…….anyway, so this book has a lot of music. Unlike my dear sister, who gave up piano when it got too hard (boo hoo)…
Sophie: It wasn’t too hard, I just hated my teacher. What was her name again?
Emily: That’s not nice. Anyway, I didn’t give up piano, and even though piano is a bit different to violin (ha, a BIT) I really enjoyed the musical aspect of this.
Sophie: Hmm no. I found that part the most frustrating because I didn’t understand a word. I mean, I could tell that Farrer was dumbing it down for everyone to understand but some of it is just not understandable to someone who doesn’t play an instrument. Jess often talks about how she needs to feel the music, and that’s just not comprehensible (I don’t even know if that word fits there, whatever).
Emily: Sophie’s not the writer in the family.
Sophie: K. The thing I think I liked about the book was that it may be really unrealistic in parts (running off with a grandmother you’ve never met), but the struggles she deals with are all too real, like her parents’ struggles with money, the lack of friends she has, Jess’ ambition and her relationship with her family.
Emily: I also really enjoyed the parts where Jess wasn’t Classical Music Jess but instead Not Classical Music Jess. You could tell from her (very whiny) interior monologues that despite how much she loves violin, she’s also stifled by it, and her escape from that was one of my favourite parts to read about. In many parts, it’s a well-crafted story about growing up and music and family – and, of course, second chances.
Sophie: Also, (kind of spoilers), there’s kind of a love triangle in the book but it wasn’t that big of a deal.
Emily: Plus, both guys were completely boring and didn’t do anything for me.
Sophie: That wasn’t the end of my sentence. I was GOING to say that there is also the adoration between Jess’ grandmother and one of her good friends, Mr Ritchie, which I found completely fantastic to read.
Emily: YES, MR RITCHIE. He was my favourite character. This is one thing we agree on…right?
Emily: Don’t mind her. She just can’t admit that sometimes we agree on things. Like how amazing Harry Potter is.
Sophie: Lies. But I’ll give you the Mr Ritchie thing. In a book which was often all about the problems in Jess’ life and could become very involved sometimes, he was a refreshing character who could turn any situation around.
Emily: So there you have it. That’s our joint thoughts on Broken Strings by Maria Farrer. Would you do another review with me, Sophie? I’m anticipating her answer. It might look something like this:
Sophie: As long as it isn’t a stupid book.
Emily: I keep telling her to read Flirty Dancing but apparently she’d be embarrassed to be seen reading it.
Sophie: If I ever end up reading it, I’m actually just going to put a dust jacket on it.
Emily: (she’s horrible, isn’t she?) But in all seriousness, she just finished Dorothy Must Die and we’ll be reviewing that together because it was “okay.” Also, she’s now nagging me to read The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer which is, in her words, “fantastic.” (she doesn’t have a very large vocabulary because she’s inferior to me in every way). Any last words, Sophie?
Sophie: Ruuuuuuuuuude. Also, I’m not reviewing Dorothy Must Die until you finish Unbecoming.
Emily: there you go, folks.
Sophie’s Rating: 5/5 Wonderkitties
Emily’s Rating: 3/5 Wonderkitties
Sophie wishes me to inform you that she’ll answer all questions for her in the comments. Also, here is her ugly (Sophie: beautiful) mug so you can put a face to the words:
Emily: Sophie is a 15-year-old person with crazy hair and no soul. She hardly ever reads the same books as me, but when she does, she steals them from my bookshelves without telling me. To my surprise she also likes cute books. And paranormal. (ugh paranormal…I’m joking…I occasionally like paranormal). Even in her five star reviews she is harsh, as you can see.
Sophie: I read many books, although not as many as Emily, and I have a very limited range of things that I actually like. As Emily said, I like both teen romance and paranormal, so when there’s a combination of the two I tend to get very excited. (wink wink Mara Dyer, ANY Cat Patrick book, The Trylle Trilogy (Amanda Hocking), Cursed (Armentrout), and Divergent.)