Allegra is a violinist entering a prestigious Mozart music competition. At 12 years of age, she is the youngest finalist in the competition, and works closely with her violin teacher to be prepared. But as she memorizes the Mozart concerto, other things in her life begin to affect her music.
Her mother’s emotionally wounded friend, Deirdre, who is a genius vocalist, makes Allegra wonder about how pain can find a voice through music. Allegra’s grandmother, who escaped the Nazi death camps, urges Allegra to embrace her Jewish heritage, and Allegra reflects on her identity as a musician. And there is a mysterious homeless man who haunts all the local concerts in the park, dancing by himself in the back and searching for a song he can’t remember.
As a musician, I enjoyed this story so much. The writing is quite accurate about how one feels about learning music, and embracing it, and connecting with the composers; how you can make yourself crazy practicing too much, how your nerves will go haywire before or after a performance, how music shapes everything you do and everything you are.