What It’s About:
One tragic twist of fate destroyed Braden Healey’s hands, his musical career, and his family. Now, unable to play, adrift in an alcoholic daze, and with only fragmented memories of his past, Braden wants desperately to escape the darkness of the last eleven years.
When his ex-wife and son are killed in a car accident, Braden returns home, hoping to forge a relationship with his troubled seventeen-year-old daughter, Allie. But how can he hope to rescue her from the curse that seems to shadow his family?
Ophelia “Phee” MacPhee, granddaughter of the eccentric old man who sold Braden his cello, believes the curse is real. She swore an oath to her dying grandfather that she would ensure Braden plays the cello as long as he lives. But he can’t play, and as the shadows deepen and Phee finds herself falling for Braden, she’ll do anything to save him. It will take a miracle of forgiveness and love to bring all three of them back to the healing power of music.goodreads.com
This book has instances of substance abuse, overdose and suicide attempts.
What I liked
In this book there are three main characters: Braden, Allie, and Phee. The story alternates between each of their first person perspectives and this is what made the book really shine. Braden and Allie were my favorites for a few reasons, but mainly because they were such complex characters and had satisfying character developments all the way to the end. I’m really struggling to figure out the best way to describe what I like about them. Braden and Allie experienced a great amount of loss, grief, and guilt. The interesting part was how they picked up the pieces and worked to overcome their traumas. I haven’t read many stories that explore father-daughter relationships (especially in a broken family), so I loved following their characters as they tried to rebuild their relationship.
What I didn’t like:
A chunk of the book involves the premise that the cello that Braden and Allie play is cursed. This is where Phee comes in, as the person who runs her family’s luthier business of making and repairing stringed instruments. There are a number of “cursed instruments” that must always be played by the musicians until they die. So…since Braden couldn’t use his hands to play the cursed cello, it supposedly lead to the loss of his wife and son. The whole curse thing was just a half-baked flop. It didn’t really fit into the story and lacked any solidity. The idea of cursed instruments is pretty cool but if you’re going to do it, you’ve gotta really commit!
Sweeping the cursed instrument thing under the rug, this book was actually quite good. I would have rated it 4 stars if the author had gone with a different way to bring Phee into the story. I loved reading the perspectives of Braden and Allie as they navigated through the loss and rebuilding of their lives. Their imperfections and bad decisions made their story all the more compelling.
You might like this book if you are interested in:
- father-daughter relationships
- family separation and loss
- music / cello / orchestra
- stories about substance abuse