304 pp. Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster ) 2011 ISBN: 978-1-4424-2052-6
Interest: 2011 Debut Author
Release Date: October 18, 2011
Source: ARC received from the publisher
Summary (From the publisher’s website): Now is not the time for Carmen to fall in love. And Jeremy is hands-down the wrong guy for her to fall for. He is infuriating, arrogant, and the only person who can stand in the way of Carmen getting the one thing she wants most: to win the prestigious Guarneri competition. Carmen’s whole life is violin, and until she met Jeremy, her whole focus was winning. But what if Jeremy isn’t just hot…what if Jeremy is better?
Carmen knows that kissing Jeremy can’t end well, but she just can’t stay away. Nobody else understands her–and riles her up–like he does. Still, she can’t trust him with her biggest secret: She is so desperate to win she takes anti-anxiety drugs to perform, and what started as an easy fix has become a hungry addiction. Carmen is sick of not feeling anything on stage and even more sick of always doing what she’s told, doing what’s expected.
Sometimes, being on top just means you have a long way to fall….
I’ve read some pretty good books this summer, but Virtuosity is one of the few that I read in one sitting. The book begins near the end of the story and it had me hooked because Carmen appears to be at a crossroads in her musical career. From there we transition to the present and Carmen isn’t stalking, or so she says, her competition. Paralleling these two very different, but very intriguing scenes piqued my interest and didn’t let me go.
Carmen is a phenomenal violinist who has records out and has even won a Grammy. Now she’s preparing for a very prestigious competition, but she’s worried that Jeremy is better. This is probably my ignorance, but I kept thinking, Carmen, you won a Grammy! You’re obviously awesome, so don’t worry about Jeremy so much. I’m guessing if Carmen was a real person and knew I was thinking that, she’d probably scoff at my ignorance and be really annoyed with me. The kicker is that Carmen isn’t only feeling the pressure from herself, but she’s feeling the heat from her teacher and her mother. She’s become a jumble of nerves and is relying too heavily on her anti-anxiety drugs to calm her down so she can be a better performer.
Like I said, the anxiety and pressure Carmen’s feeling stems quite a bit from her mother. Her mother is her manager, and Carmen doesn’t even call her mom; she’s called by her first name, Diana. Obviously, there are some serious mother-daughter issues in this book. They are layered and twist in an excellent element to the plot. Diana is written so well that she was making me anxious. I kept feeling this urge to yell at her to back off and give Carmen some room to breathe.
Another relationship that really made the story come to life is Carmen’s relationship with Jeremy. In some ways it reminded me of Adam and Mia’s relationship from If I Stay/Where She Went by Gayle Forman. It isn’t nearly as steamy and angsty, but I don’t think it’s meant to be. Virtuosity focuses more on Carmen finding herself and whether she truly enjoys the violin anymore. It’s more about her recognizing her strengths and weaknesses and the true colors of those around her. I enjoyed their relationship because it made for an interesting twist in their rivalry and focus.
This is an early review, but Virtuosity is an awesome book that deserves some glowing, early buzz. I hope you’ll remember to pick it up in October or pre-order it now. Jessica Martinez is an author to watch; I’m already looking forward to her second book when her first hasn’t even officially released.