Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

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Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez

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Category: Teens
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A well-writen story about growing up and taking responsibility for your own actions. A perfect curl-up-on-the-sofa book.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 304 Date: October 2011
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Books
External links: [ Author's website]
ISBN: 978-0857072849

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Carmen Bianchi plays the violin; in fact she might well be the best young violinist in the world. She plays a Stradivarius worth $1.2 million, provided by the grandparents who otherwise have little to do with her and she's managed by her mother, whose word is law. Schooling is provided by a home tutor – and she doesn't even get to knock on doors because of the possible damage to her hands: she kicks instead. So far she hasn't really minded that she doesn't have a life outside of violin, but then she meets Jeremy King – a fellow competitor in the world's most prestigious violin competition – and she has to think about her priorities.

It was a wet Saturday afternoon and I didn't intend to read this book. I simply sat down to have a quick look to see what it was about, but it wasn't long before I was curled up on the sofa and thoroughly enjoying a good read. It's well written. The language is simple and direct with no devices to cloud the issue – it's quite simply a good story, well told. Jessica Martinez can write and she also knows music – and there is a lot about music in the story. Even if you're not a particular fan of classical music (I'm not) you'll still find it a good story because Martinez has written the story with the advantage of having a musical background rather than with the need to shoehorn in every bit of research.

The themes are ones which teens will relate to: moving away from the situation in which your parents make the decisions, friendships and above all, the need for honesty in what you do or allow others to do for you. Martinez deals brilliantly with the situation where Carmen has to judge the motivation behind Jeremy's apparent attraction to her. Is it genuine or will he do anything to win the competition. As her tutor explains – most girls of her age just have to wonder whether or not it's sex he's after!

There were just a couple of points which pulled me out of the story and one's where Jeremy's grandmother refers to the sea near her home on the south coast of England and suggests that the young people can have some fun in the ocean. We don't have ocean around our shores! But – I'm nitpicking here – and that really is the only complaint I can make about an otherwise good story.

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy Fly on the Wall by Emily Lockhart.

Buy Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez at

Buy Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez at


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