Allegra Katz has been playing piano since she was four. But these aren't just any piano lessons. She studies at the Julliard School in New York, where careers are being formed—or not.
Between strict practice schedules, music classes, and regular school, Ally doesn't have time for much else. Sometimes she wishes she could break free, but she's never known any other way. Her parents—a professional violinist and a singer—would kill her if they knew she was thinking about quitting piano, especially her mother.
So she keeps on going, but as the months go by, she begins to ask herself, does she even love the piano? Why does she play? And how much longer can she stand the pressure before she breaks?
JANE BRESKIN ZALBEN is the author of several novels, including Unfinished Dreams and Leap, her first novel for Knopf. She is also the author and illustrator the popular Beni and Pearl picture books, as well as many others.
Four Seasons 4.6 out of 5based on
More than 1 year ago
Allegra Katz is a piano prodigy who has been taking lessons from Miss Pringle, the best piano teacher at Julliiard School in New York, where 14 year-old Ally attends Pre-College. She has been taking these lessons since the age of 4, practicing at least 4 hours a day plus 2 more on her scales. With so much piano activity Ally has no time for anything else but High School, where she is also involved playing the piano.
Ally's parents are accomplished musicians in their own right. Her father plays the violin while her mother sings opera. They are extremely proud of their daughter's gift and take pride that they are a musical family. The only non-musical member is Grandma who lives in an apartment connected to the condo. She is a free-spirit.
Ally's friends are Opal, an artist who makes her art from odd objects and Brad, a school-mate with an interest in Ally. He works for his father in their restaurant and does not go to Jullliard. Ally begins to realize she is missing much of her childhood and begins to doubt her planned career in high stakes piano playing. She is afraid to tell her parents for fear they will be crushed. It also means choosing her summer at a math camp or the music camp she's attends each summer.
Four Seasons is broken up into seasons and seasons into months rather than typical chapters. Each also begin with a poem or a famous quote. The story moves at a good pace and keeps you interested. There is a lot of professional piano lingo and lifestyle, yet it will not take the ability to play an instrument to enjoy this fun book. Teen behavior abounds in the form of first loves, rivalries and all the emotions that go with being a teenage girl.
If I were asked what I did not like about Four Seasons it would be the ending; it is too long and drawn out. The story was over at the end of the third season. The conflict reached its peak and was resolved. Fall ends on a satisfying note (no pun intended). Winter is Ally's life, and those of her friends and family, after Ally's major decision. You get to see a glimpse of what those lives are now like. Those months add nothing to the story yet this epilogue is enjoyable reading. It's not often an author allow us to see the character's lives after the story has ended. Not just Ally's life but the lives of nearly every character mentioned. Opal and Brad, classmates,camp mates, parents and teachers. Nothing wrong with this, it adds a deeper satisfaction to all of the drama Ally endured the first 9 months of that year.
Who will enjoy this young adult novel? Anyone accomplished in a musical field may be enjoyably taken back to their youth. Tenn girls will love power struggles between Ally and her mother and Ally and Miss Pringle. Those that like a well-constructed story will enjoy Four Season, the new novel from Jane Breskin Zalben.
NOTE: received from publisher
More than 1 year ago
I love this book
Its my favorite
More than 1 year ago
More than 1 year ago
Ally is a master at playing the piano. She has been taking lessons since she was four. She is now thirteen. She takes lessons from one of the most talented teachers in New York City at the pre-college program at Juilliard. You have to audition to get into the program, and to stay in the program you have to live and breathe music. She needs to practice at least six hours a day, and she goes to lessons during the week and all day on Saturdays. Her teacher wants her to quit her public school and be home-schooled so she will have even more time to practice. Ally isn't buying this anymore. She realizes that she is missing out on being a kid. She wants to spend a Saturday hanging out with her best friend and her almost-boyfriend. But her parents are into music, too. Her dad makes his living playing the violin and her mother sings. They don't want her to give up her dream. Ally is confused and doesn't know what she wants to do. She has a love of music but she also has a love of mathematics. The story in FOUR SEASONS is not lighthearted. This tale tells about how stressed kids can be who are over-programmed in life, and how that stress can cause many problems for them. I really enjoyed this book and hope that many others will, too.
More than 1 year ago
Ally Katz is a thirteen-year-old piano genius, having played since she was four years old. She attends a private music school and practices up to six hours a day. She eat, breathes, and sleeps music, especially with very important recital coming up that will determine her musical future. As you can imagine, this rigorous schedule does not leave a lot of time for a social life. With criticisms getting stronger and stress levels rising, Ally begins to long for something outside of playing piano. A normal life, with girlie sleepovers and maybe even a boyfriend. However, gathering the courage to tell her parents and herself what she really wants is not going to be easy at all.
Four Seasons was an interesting book. Occasionally there will be some kid on the news that lives a similar life as Ally, but reading about it first hand was an entirely different experience. I thought Ally's voice was very raw, very well-written. The reader gets to know her every ache, her hopes, her confusions. Ally's best friend Opal was absolutely adorable and completely charming. Though all teens go through some sort of encounter where they have to learn to express their feelings to their parents, I am not sure this book will appeal to a broad reading audience. It is very focused on the fierce competitive life of being a great musician, with little else in Ally's life that matters. Those who do pick up the book will be rewarded with cute scenes with boys and a happy ending.
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