Virtuosity by Jessica Martinez
Summary: Carmen is a successful violinist preparing for the most intense and important competition of her life. For “research”, she decides to stalk—er, investigate—Jeremy King, the only person in the competition who stands a chance at beating Carmen for the prize. But Jeremy actually turns out to be a nice guy, and Carmen can’t bring herself to hate him. Carmen finds herself befriending her rival, and beginning to think outside the parameters her overprotective mother has set for her.
My thoughts: Virtuosity is a vibrant contemporary debut about music and becoming independent. Jessica Martinez’s writing is just as lyrical as the pieces that Carmen plays on her violin, and the storytelling is borderline perfect. Virtuosity manages to balance introducing the technicalities of competitive violin playing with expressing the scary emotions a young woman goes through as she tries to think independently of her controlling mother.
Carmen is truly a joy to read about. Though she’s famous and has won a Grammy, she doesn’t act pompous. In fact, Carmen is incredibly easy to relate to despite her success; she struggles with things that we all struggle with. Because of this, it’s easy to root for her to overcome all the obstacles she faces (although Carmen doesn’t need much encouragement; she’s a very, very strong person).
Virtuosity doesn’t offer much in terms of side characters, but the book does introduce a fabulous love interest. Jeremy is cocky and self-assured, but he’s also genuinely nice. And he’s a tease, which is very entertaining. The dynamic between Jeremy and Carmen is excellent, and it eventually offers more than one would expect.
Virtuosity will thrill readers with its emotional rollercoaster ride, but it will also bring a feeling of fulfillment, as if you yourself have just finished performing. Virtuosity tafes part in Essay Writer Contest, because it is perfect for fans of slightly edgy contemporary YA—it incorporates some tougher elements, like drug addiction and manipulation—but it will capture the hearts of anyone who reads it. Highly recommended for music lovers as well!