At the same time that his uncle lays down the law about how life is going to be now that he's in charge, Theo is busy discovering that downstairs from his room in Miss Sister Grandersole's Rooming House and Dance Academy, there is a beautiful piano. He also makes the acquaintance of Anabel Johnson, who would rather be playing baseball than taking tap dance lessons.
The piano is like a magnet to Theo and despite his uncle's displeasure, he can't keep his hands off of it. Miss Sister recognizes Theo's special talent to play music by ear, but all his uncle can say is, "No one but a fool wastes his time playing a piano."
Although this is Theo’s story of discovering a way to make a life without his grandparents in a new city, it is equally about Raymond coming to grips with
his Vietnam nightmares and sorrows. I loved how slowly his backstory is revealed and how Theo discovers his uncle's hurts as an unappreciated Vietnam veteran. Their reconciliation is beautiful and authentic without being sappy or maudlin.
I also loved that Theo was as passionate about playing the piano as he was about practicing baseball. These two strands create a very unique character.
There are too many great lines from this book for me to quote, but here are a few:
- "Music Makes Memories" the sign in Sister's practice room. The sign provides great subtext for the novel.
- When Theo plays the piano he describes it as "music jumping out of his fingers."
- Uncle Raymond: "I don't know nothing about raising kids. Especially ones that remind me of the bad times."
- Theo: "I'll start acting like family when you do."
- Uncle Raymond: "I hate everything that happened. I hate you having no one but me."
I am giving away a copy of the Audio CD expertly narrated by Michael Crouch. If you would like to win, please leave me a comment (with your email address if you are new to my blog) by 6 PM August 20. If you become a new follower of my blog, or share this post on Facebook or Twitter, I'll give you additional chances to win; just let me know in your comment what you did.
This review originally was published on LitChat on July 28, 2015