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Things Hoped For by Andrew Clements

As you might recall, one of the very first books I reviewed on this blog was Things Not Seen by Andrew Clements (and wow, my reviews were a lot shorter back then). So, today, I finally had a chance to read the sequel -- Things Hoped For.

First of all, I should point out that Things Hoped For isn't really a sequel to Things Not Seen, but more of a companion volume, so they can be enjoyed separately (though there's one little plot line that makes more sense if you've read the first book)

Things Hoped For is the story of Gwen, a young violinist who is preparing for her college auditions (for Julliard and the Manhattan School of Music). She has been living with her grandfather in Manhattan for the past two years, when one day (only a week before her audition!), she comes home to find a note from her grandfather, saying only that he has gone away for a little while and that she should take care of the house while he is gone.

Luckily for her, she happens to meet up with Bobby (from Things Not Seen and who is now going by Robert to sound more professional), who offers to help her with the whole "taking care of the house thing" (her uncle wants her grandfather to sell the house because he needs the money... etc...).

What I loved about the novel was how well Clements paints a picture of the musical world. It's a world I've grown up in: My mom is a piano teacher, my boyfriend is an amazing flutist (and he rarely reads this blog and therefore has no idea that I like to brag about him), and I have always been sort of on the fringe of that world*, so I know when the descriptions are inaccurate**. And Clements clearly knows what he's talking about.

I did feel however, that there was a little too much going on in this novel; there's a little side plot about invisibility (that follows from Things Not Seen) and it detracts from the main focus of the novel (Gwen and her grandfather and her auditions), but not too much. I'd still highly recommend this to fans of Things Not Seen, and to those who like books about musicians (I think I might have to make a list of some of those titles sometime soon).

*I played violin for 10 years, but it has been sitting under my bed since high school graduation. And I sang in a few children's choirs -- but books and reading and foreign languages have always been my true loves.

** I started reading Pop by Aury Wallington and had to put it down about 15 pages in because she described fourth-grade strings students playing Chopin. Which is completely wrong because 1)Beginners, not matter how good they are, would still be playing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star" and "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" and 2) because Chopin wrote mainly for piano (or a piano with an orchestra in the background), so if your fourth graders were really that amazing that they were ready for classical music, they would probably be playing Bach or Vivaldi, or some other Baroque composer. Granted, it's probably a perfectly good book, but I just can't stand that kind of inaccuracy. I mean, if you're going to write a book, do your research! (or get a librarian to do it for you!)


Little Willow said...

YES! to the need for research. This being a general HURRAH, since I have not read this particular book, but I know exactly what you mean. I am sad when books neglect to do full-out research and incorrectly assume things about true talents, be they related to music, performing, school, etc. I can't tell you how many books I've read about the smart kid, the prodigy, the dancer, that I've wanted to correct!

YAY for your boy, by the way. I play flute as well.

Sara said...

that's awesome! I'm more of the "wire choir" type myself;)

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