“Virtuosity” Jessica Martinez

2011. Simon Pulse. 294 pp.

VirtuositySeventeen-year-old Carmen has always been obsessed with playing the violin. It’s her life and breath. She is nothing without it, which is why she has to be the best. After being discovered as a child prodigy, her whole life has revolved around touring, concerts, recordings, lessons, and planning everything around her next competition. With her mother (a former opera star) relentlessly pushing her, Carmen has always tasted success.

Carmen is now facing the greatest competition of her life. She has been practicing for 4 years, but knows that if she wins the Guarneri Competition her life will be decided forever. She can get into the best schools, be accepted by any orchestra, tour the world, and write her own ticket to stardom. With the Guarneri hanging over her head, Carmen’s obsessions, anxiety and nervousness worsen. As if that weren’t enough, the Inderal pills she’d started taking to calm her nerves before performances are now the only thing keeping her going. Knowing she’s addicted, because she needs them for everything, doesn’t make it easier to stop but she can’t win without them.

Carmen is paranoid about the other contestants, especially the former British child prodigy Jeremy King. She doesn’t plan to have their friendship turn to love but, with only one of them able to win, Carmen will find more at stake with this relationship than with anything she’s ever faced in her life.

Recommended for readers aged 14 and older.

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