Saturday, March 10, 2012

The Mozart Season, by Virginia Euwer Wolff

When Allegra gets offered the chance to compete in a youth violin contest, she accepts the opportunity without realizing at first how stressful it will be. But the competition and the challenges of mastering Mozart are not the only things on her mind. Allegra struggles with her identity as a half-Jew. In addition, there's the unrelated mystery of the strange man who comes to the local string concerts and dances while the ensembles play.

Coming so soon after reading the quicker-paced and more digestible Virtuosity, it's hard to avoid comparisons. This book is pitched at a younger audience (Allegra herself is younger and the stakes of her competition are less extreme), but there are bigger differences than simply the younger target demographic. I honestly found this to be a poorer read. The narrative is jumpy and seemingly random. I suspect that Allengra's scattered voice is supposed to be stylistic (to represent her random thoughts), but as we never learn that much about what she actually feels, it's hard to tell. Instead we get near train-of-consciousness rambling which quickly becomes numbing. None of which is helped by the action, which is hard to follow and oddly paced (the contest itself, which ought to be climactic, is a non-event).

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