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, anything-can-happen, 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 YouTube--or 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 Chertok--not 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?
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.