Disclaimer: I received this e-arc from the publisher and netgalley. Thanks! All opinions are my own.
Book: Private Lessons
Author: Cynthia Salaysay
Book Series: Standalone
Diversity: Filipino American main character!
Publication Date: May 12, 2020
Genre: YA Contemporary
Recommended Age: 18+ (sex and sexual content, statutory rape TW, underage drinking, death, child grooming, drug use, abuse: emotional mental verbal and psychological, racism, language, self-harm TW, depression, gaslighting, wanting to kill a character more than Umbridge)
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Synopsis: After seventeen-year-old Claire Alalay’s father’s death, only music has helped her channel her grief. Claire likes herself best when she plays his old piano, a welcome escape from the sadness — and her traditional Filipino mother’s prayer groups. In the hopes of earning a college scholarship, Claire auditions for Paul Avon, a prominent piano teacher, who agrees to take Claire as a pupil. Soon Claire loses herself in Paul’s world and his way of digging into a composition’s emotional core. She practices constantly, foregoing a social life, but no matter how hard she works or how well she plays, it seems impossible to gain Paul’s approval, let alone his affection.
Author Cynthia Salaysay composes a moving, beautifully written portrait of rigorous perfectionism, sexual awakening, and the challenges of self-acceptance. Timely and vital, Private Lessons delves into a complicated student/teacher relationship, as well as class and cultural differences, with honesty and grace.
Review: This was a gorgeous book! The book does not shy from the tough points, where it shows our main character who is in love with this (for a lack of a better word) pedo who is abusing his authority to have sex with her (a minor, EW!). The book is expertly written, amazingly well detailed for world building, and the characters are engaging (and disgusting in Paul’s case). Sometimes when books say they are wrote for a certain thing (like feminism or otherwise) I find the book isn’t really embodying that movement. However, I feel like this book is a champion for the #metoo movement.
However, I felt like the book was a bit slower paced than what I usually preferred, but I think it’s intention. It makes you pause and forces you to hear Claire’s story, through the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Verdict: I recommend this as essential reading. It’s hard to read sometimes, but it’s essential to do so.