Music has always been Ruby's first love. But has it ever loved her back?
Slip behind the scenes of the classical music world one hot, romantic, New York City summer.
"Delightful...Hits all the right notes." Mackenzi Lee, author of The Gentleman's Guide to Vice and Virtue
Ruby has always been Ruby Chertok: future classical pianist and daughter of renowned composer Martin Chertok. But after her horrendous audition for the prestigious music school where her father is on faculty, it's clear that music has publicly dumped her. Now Ruby is suddenly just . . . Ruby. And who is that again? All she knows is that she wants away from the world of classical music for good.
Oscar is a wunderkind, a musical genius. Just ask any of the 1.8 million people who've watched him conduct on YouTubeor hey, just ask Oscar. But while he might be the type who'd name himself when asked about his favorite composer and somehow make you love him more for it, Oscar is not the type to jeopardize his chance to study under the great Martin Chertoknot for a crush. He's all too aware of how the ultra-privileged world of classical music might interpret a black guy like him falling for his benefactor's white daughter.
But as the New York City summer heats up, so does the spark between Ruby and Oscar. Soon their connection crackles with the same alive, uncontainable energy as the city itself. Can two people still figuring themselves out figure out how to be together? Or will the world make the choice for them?
|Publisher:||Penguin Young Readers Group|
|Product dimensions:||5.80(w) x 8.10(h) x 1.40(d)|
|Age Range:||14 - 17 Years|
About the Author
Jenn Marie Thorne graduated from NYU-Tisch with a BFA in drama and quickly realized she was having more fun writing plays, short films, and superhero webisodes than actually performing in them. She lives and writes in the UK with her husband, two sons, and hound dog Molly.
Read an Excerpt
A stranger was playing my piano. My piano, untouched for months, purring under his fingers like a stray cat. More than purring . . . singing, leaping, laughing, dying, all in the time it took me to stumble-run downstairs.
I stared into the dusty living room from the bottom step, not trusting my eyes—my ears even less. But there he was, half standing while he played, one knee on the bench, like this was a quick errand he’d needed to run.
A boy. Tall, lean, angular, skin rich brown, hair a supernova of spirals backlit by afternoon sun.
He was staring at me.
“Do you like it?” he called.
Was this a hallucination? A musical one?
“You play really well,” I got out.
Nobody was supposed to touch my piano. Not me, not anybody.
Not a stranger in my house.
He was still going—softly now, relentless, the key shifting. “But the piece?”
My eyes darted to our tall many-paned windows, the big oak doors—open to the stoop. How had he gotten in? “I—I’m trying to figure out what it is. I know it’s Bach, but . . .”
He hopped with delight, not missing a single note. “Not Bach. But oh my God, that you thought so . . .”
He grinned, so relaxed and weirdly familiar that everything seemed to readjust like it does in a dream, making me wonder if he lived here and I was visiting. He had a single dimple, an easy smile—what was happening?
Chatter from West Seventy-first Street filtered into the living room and away. I took a step closer. A better look.
My age—seventeen, eighteen?—dressed like an August issue of GQ. Short-sleeved striped button-down, royal-blue bow tie, neatly pressed chinos, a canvas belt. He was definitely real. Hyperreal.
This couldn’t be an intervention. Nobody could have been tone-deaf enough to send a brilliant pianist here to tempt me to change my mind. Could he be some stalker fan of Dad’s or Mom’s, or Win’s or—was it pure coincidence? Had I just . . . left the door open behind me and he’d seen the piano? Or, or, or . . .
My staring must finally have gotten to him, because he bobbled the first note in twelve thousand. He took his hands off the keyboard, a magician before the reveal.
“Want another try?” His bright eyes locked on mine.
I didn’t. I didn’t want to talk about music at all. But I didn’t want to lose whatever game this was either
His eyebrows rose. “Damn, going for the deep cuts.” Then he rubbed his cheek, relaxing his shoulders, falling marginally mortal.
“Bell?” I eyed him warily. “Elizabeth? Or . . . it really doesn’t sound like Iain Be—”
“Oscar Bell.” He closed the distance, extending his hand. “Nice to—”
I edged away. “You composed that.”
He shrugged. Cocky.
“That’s your fugue.” A snort burst out of me. “Okay.”
“I could sketch it out for you.” He glanced around, miming scribbling. “I should start writing this shit down anyway.”
Before he even finished saying it, his knee was back on the bench, fingers back on the keys, repeating the first movement, adding another voice, another and another as if it were as simple as breathing.
I didn’t realize I’d been backing up until I hit Mom’s Steinway across the room. I flinched away like her piano was a hot pipe.
“Course not.” His eyes danced up to meet mine, teasing. “I came up with it on the ride over.”
Now that I looked out through the front bay windows, I saw an SUV taxi idling at the curb, back hatch open.
“Sorry if I surprised you.” The boy’s voice dropped into a different register. “Mr.—uh, Marty just said to come say hi to Ruby.”
I closed my eyes, letting out a slow breath. He knew Dad. Of course.
“I’m hoping you’re Ruby? But right now I’m thinking you’re not.”
“What? I’m her. Me,” I said as Dad’s voice bellowed from the street, “Carry it down there and put it by the door, that’s good!”
This guy—“it’s Bell”—was still staring at me.
I shrugged, flustered. “Why wouldn’t I be Ruby?”
“I don’t know. You seem older, so I thought maybe you were another of his students. And . . .”
Another of his students? Since when did Dad have his own students?
“The way he talked about you—I thought you’d be short?”
I let out a startled laugh, then glanced down. All five foot eight of me was draped in black—black ballet flats, black yoga pants, black sleep top, black cardigan, its black sleeves covering my hands to the fingertips. With my pasty face and long dark hair frizzing loose, I must have looked like something out of a micro-budget horror movie.
But Oscar extended his hand again. “Sorry. Let’s . . . I mean—I’m Oscar Bell. Nice to meet you.”
“Ruby. Chertok,” I said, sliding my palm into his. “Pleasure to . . . um . . .”
He smiled, lips parted as if he wanted to finish my sentence for me. His hand was sturdier than most pianists’—warm and smooth, except for his rough fingertips.
“You’ve met! Fantastic!” Dad filled the doorway, six foot two, wild white hair, pink forehead, nose, cheeks, gray beard, arms and legs and trunk like an oak. He strode forward with his hands out and I thought for a second he wanted a hug before he zigged left and clapped Oscar on the shoulders. “This is our prodigy.”
“Ah, I don’t know about that.” Oscar looked at the floor—smiling.
He knew about that. He knew all about that.
“Found him on YouTube,” Dad said, leaning against Mom’s piano like it didn’t burn his skin at all. “Can you believe it? I love the Internet, love it.”
Outside, the scrawniest kids I’d ever seen were lugging furniture into our basement apartment from the trunks of what now looked to be a line of taxis. A desk, twin bed, chair, low bookshelf, all of it the same dorm-room pine.
Dad laughed. “What are the odds of somebody like you going to the same school as Nora Visser’s niece?”
Oscar’s body wavered like a struck string.
Dad whapped him. “A once in a lifetime musical prodigy with a family connection to our board chair! Uncanny.”
“Yes! I mean, thank you.” Oscar beamed back, height restored.
I tapped the window. “Dad, are those Amberley kids? Why are they—what’s with the bed?”
Dad glanced over his shoulder. “They’re moving Oscar in. I found them lazing around the common room and they volunteered to help.”
Of course they did. They’d go dumpster diving if the great Martin Chertok asked them to.
Then I turned. “Wait—what? Moving Oscar . . . ?”
“He’ll stay in the basement apartment this summer. The dorms were full and we’re between tenants—it’s kismet!”
We’d been “between tenants” for eight years, since my brother Leo got his spot with the Boston Symphony. We stored our luggage down there now. And here it was, coming back up the stone steps, one empty roller bag at a time being hauled by a bespectacled teenager wearing a T-shirt that said: Oboe You Di’int.
“Thank you again for this, sir.” Oscar’s voice was suddenly neutral, the light drawl I’d noticed gone. “I’m so honored to have the chance to study with you. The New City Symphony completely changed my—”
“The honor’s mine.” Dad waved away the compliment, turning so that all I could see was his wall of a back. “I love new talent, it’s what keeps me going.” He pointed to the piano. “What was it I heard you playing a second ago?”
“What we were talking about in the car,” Oscar said, scratching his hair so it bent like a crown and sprang back up. “The baroqueness of the bridge, you know? I wanted to try it out.”
The baroqueness. Of the bridge.
Oscar traced the keys and then started the melody again, lightly, carelessly. Perfectly.
Even without seeing Dad’s face, I could sense the reverence on it. He tapped the piano lid. “This is going to be a good summer.”
This summer. In my house. The summer I was supposed to find solace, clarity, a series of days that had nothing to do with music.
Mr. Prodigy—Oscar—was still playing, oblivious to all damage. His song surrounded me, a trap, one strand slipping around the other
I was in motion. To the coat-tree. The porcelain key bowl. Bag, keys, ponytail holder into hair, me into the sweltering street. The music trailed me out, Oscar Bell’s voice following after.
“Oh. Hey, sorry if . . . It was nice to meet you, Ruby!”
Never missing a note.
Excerpted from "Night Music"
Copyright © 2019 Jenn Marie Thorne.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Young Readers Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
A phenomenal romantic novel about Ruby, a girl born into a prestigious classical music family, who somehow doesn't fit, and Oscar, a musical genius who plans to spend the summer studying under the renowned Martin Chertok--Ruby's father. He doesn't expect to like Ruby so much, and he knows just how it looks to outsiders...a black guy falling for his benefactor's white daughter. Not to mention Ruby, who had no intentions of penning Oscar into her summer of finding herself. Can they really make it work against all odds? Okay, honestly, this novel shocked me in the best possible way. I have read the author's other books, which are all fantastic, but this one is spectacular! Oscar and Ruby, and even Ruby's father and family, jump off the pages in a whirlwind of emotion and energy, every bit alit with charm, even the difficult dialogue that is tackled here. I didn't just read the novel, I was ravenous for it, the chapters layered and textured like the best kind of symphony. Utterly spellbinding.
Beautiful, funny, heart-wrenching, and true. Jenn Marie Thorne is a master at writing young adult contemporaries with characters who you wish could be your best friends. The world of classical music in NIGHT MUSIC is the backdrop for a story of love—both of another and one’s self. A romance as raw as it is real, in all its glorious, fumbling awkwardness and magic. Ms. Thorne’s prose is music in and of itself. If you long to read a book that will inspire you to find your passion, NIGHT MUSIC is it.
"Night Music" is a beautiful YA coming-of-age/romance that brings classical music front and center. Ruby Chertok is the youngest of our children born to musical parents and expected to be equally musical. Ruby desperately wants to live up to the family name, but it does not seem to be in the cards after her failed audition for the high-profile Amberley School of Music. However, Ruby feels the need for purpose- she is just not sure what that purpose is. It certainly doesn't help that the new music genius, another seventeen-year-old who is already composing, is moving into the basement apartment of the house where Ruby and her father reside so that her father can mentor him even more closely. Ruby feels that her life revolves around music, and it is impossible to get away from it in her house. As the eccentric musician-type, her father assumes Ruby will continue to clean up after him, get food, and make coffee- and Ruby does, without complaint. At the same time, she is getting to know the new prodigy, Oscar Bell, who is dealing with his own problems, including anxiety, composing, and that he is viewed for his race and not for who he actually is. As Ruby spends time trying to find herself and fit within her eccentric family, we follow not only a fantastic coming-of-age journey but also a beautiful romance. Other major themes are racism and to a lesser extent, mental illness. I would have liked these to be handled in a bigger way, as they are important themes and not fully fleshed out in honor of the primary stories/themes. However, as is, they certainly give pause and can raise critical questions for the YA audience. I highly recommend this book to people who enjoy YA contemporary romance. Although described as a rom-com, I did not get this feeling from the book and felt that it carried an importance gravitas from which comedy was mostly lacking. However, I loved the book for what it was and think this is an important and beautiful read with a lovely musical back-drop. Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.