St. Martin’s Griffin 2014.
Sing is a legacy at Dunhammond Conservatory, the world famous training ground for musicians. Its students are watched by programs like the Fire Lake Opera where her father is conductor and her famous mother launched her career. Dunhammond Conservatory is a mysterious place, filled with old stone buildings, musical prodigies, and warnings to stay out of the woods.
Sing is not sure she belongs here or that she can live up to her parents’ reputations. Soon she’s navigating lessons, auditions, and amorous advances, all while trying to ignore the insistent call of the forbidden forest. And if all that weren’t enough, the opera for Fall Festival is Angelique, the one opera that has fascinated her since she was a small child—and the opera that her mother died performing.
I loved this book for the complexity of Sing’s character. It showed well the confusion and angst of adolescence as Sing tries to navigate parental expectation, adolescent social networks, and the high expectations of both teachers and the music world. Like Sara Zarr’s The Lucy Variations, Strange Sweet Song gave insight into the pressures and prejudices of the world of professional music for gifted young people. In addition, it’s an engaging gothic romance.
Teen readers will love this book for its clear and honest portrayal of the pressures they face. They’ll be satisfied by the romantic and fantasy elements, and engaged by a heroine who’s navigating the world, trying different strategies for navigating very difficult social and professional situations, and ultimately discovering her own path to the life she wants.