I am excited to be a part of the WANT blog tour for Stephanie Lawton's debut novel. Below you will find my review for this beautiful story, along with a guest post from Stephanie herself, explaining why music is so important for this particular piece. At the bottom, be sure to enter my GIVEAWAY for an e-book copy of WANT (please only enter if you have access to reading an e-copy).
Want by Stephanie Lawton
Published: June 7, 2012 by InkSpell Publishing
Julianne counts the days until she can pack her bags and leave her old-money, tradition-bound Southern town where appearance is everything and secrecy is a way of life. A piano virtuoso, she dreams of attending a prestigious music school in Boston. Failure is not an option, so she enlists the help of New England Conservatory graduate Isaac Laroche to help her. She can't understand why he suddenly gave up Boston's music scene to return to the South. He doesn't know her life depends on escaping it.
Julianne must face down madness from without, just as it threatens from within. Isaac must resist an inappropriate attraction, but an indiscretion at a Mardi Gras ball-the pinnacle event for Mobile's elite-forces their present wants and needs to collide with sins of the past. Will Julianne accept the help she's offered and get everything she ever wanted, or will she self-destruct and take Isaac down with her? [goodreads]
Want is the story about a young girl wanting more from life than her southern genes have handed to her. Through her talents as a pianist she is preparing herself for a chance to leave the south behind and pursue a life-long dream of becoming a concert pianist. Through blood, sweat, and tears Julianne knows she must stay focused and determined to reach her goals, but when she's suddenly placed under the guidance of her new piano teacher, Isaac, suddenly her goals begin to seem a little blurry.
Stephanie Lawton weaves this story around the nightmares of what it's like to live with a person who's mentally ill. The nightmare of never knowing when Julianne's mother will have a good day or a bad day are constantly sprinkled through out this novel. My heart went out to this girl, having to endure the pain both physically and emotionally, constantly at war within herself. It's easy to hate the illness, but sometimes most difficult to love the person who carries it.
The relationships in which Julianne seeks in this novel are both surprising and heartbreaking. The pull she feels towards Isaac is instant and almost alarming. However, there's another character by the name of Dave who befriends her. My first reaction was to notice Isaac, but something about Dave caught my eye, too. Sometimes what we end up wanting is not necessarily what we always need.
This story reminds us that even in our deepest, darkest moments hope is worth holding on to. Want is a captivating debut novel from an author who should not be missed.
Stephanie Lawton shares why she incorporated music into the story WANT...
First, thanks so much for having me on your blog today. Second, I’m glad you asked why I incorporated music into Want, because music is so vital to writing whether you listen to it while actually writing or, if you’re like me, you need to surround yourself with it to get into the story and characters’ heads. It becomes a soundtrack to that world.
There’s a lot of messed-up stuff going on in Want and the characters are pretty moody and unstable. Juli doesn’t get the attention she deserves at home, so I needed her to look for it somewhere else—someone else. She could have gone looking for role models among her teachers at school, but I wanted to avoid that cliché by making it a private music teacher.
Anyone who has spent time seriously training for something, whether it be sports, art or music, knows things get intense and emotions run high. This is why I made Juli and Isaac volatile musicians whose genius is the same thing that keeps them from ever being truly happy. Individually they are ticking time bombs. Put them together and it’s time to duck and cover—literally.
I chose to focus on Rachmaninoff’s shorter piano works because I’ve loved him since I was young, and the tone of his moodier pieces fits the plot perfectly. Plus, he had a very large, intimidating presence in real life, which also lent itself to Isaac’s character and Juli’s ambivalent (that may be an eensy understatement) responses.
People say a picture is worth a thousand words, I but I think a piece of music is worth even more. You can look at a painting or Instagram shot and think, “Wow, that’s clever/lovely/disturbing.” But rarely will it move you to tears or make you get up and dance, want to smash something or get you giggling.
Music does that.
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