Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez
Simon and Schuster, 2011. ISBN: 978-0-85707-284-9.
Two passionate teenagers. One Prize. Who will win?
Set in the present time this novel is about the choices people make and life changing decisions which impact on your friends and family. The illegitimate child of an opera singer and a good for nothing play boy, Carmen Bianchi has had anything but a normal life. Her friend and mentor Heidi, is the only relief from the hours of constant practice and performance of being a musical prodigy.
Told in the first person the story follows Carmen as she prepares for the prestigious Guarneri, a classical music prize held once every four years for violinists worldwide, but is this really what Carmen wants? Her mother and Yuri have driven her for years encouraging her to reach utter musical perfection but is that really possible with Inderal? Is using Inderal fair on the other competitors? Seeds of doubt worm their way into Carmen's mind in the weeks before the competition causing Carmen to think of the Guarneri as an elusive dream, something that she'd never be able to hold so long as Jeremy King is her competition.
Virtuosity is a compelling novel about love, loss and freedom. An involving novel, I would recommend it to those who enjoyed reading The Last Song and the movie Raise your Voice. Jessica Martinez did a wonderful job describing the joys and triumphs that come with being a musician and the ups and downs of just being a teenager and rounded off her novel nicely as a story of hope and freedom.
Kayla Gaskell, age 16.