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I've been following Barbara O'Connor's writing since Fame And Glory in Freedom, Georgia. I think I've read everything that she's written since Fame And Glory, but I haven't read everything she's written before it. Beethoven in Paradise is her first novel.
One of the things I've always liked about O'Connor's writing is her quirky, well-developed characters. I've wondered if her characters were always quirky or if she developed that as her writing style. This book answered that question: Her characters were quirky right from the start. As in the other books she's written, the setting is as much of a character and an influence as the people.
Again, as in other books, I love how she resisted the urge to tie up the story in a tidy, happy bow. The story ends on a positive note, but not all the problems have been solved.
Martin loves music. His father makes him play baseball because he doesn't want his son to be a sissy. The neighbor Wylene encourages Martin but his father does understand why Martin is even friends with a middle aged woman. When Wylene buys a violin for Martin to play when he's visiting her trailer everything gets out of control.
Beethoven in Paradise is a superb title for this extraordinary book. Well written, emotional, with characters that leap off the page in their "realness" and charm. The author has done an excellent job in creating Martin's life, family and longings for music and an instrument of his own even though it doesn't fit the norm of where he lives or what his own parents want for him. Even though Martin has a tough road ahead of him, there is hope that he is finding his way, accepting himself and others and will lead the life he dreams of.