The Notes

Crown. Apr. 2024. 320p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9780593711385.
Gr 7 Up–At a prestigious arts boarding school, pianist Claire Wu is taken with her demanding new piano teacher, the enigmatic Dr. Li. Shortly after classes begin for the new term, Claire starts receiving handwritten notes warning her away from Dr. Li. Many of her friends and classmates, especially her roommate Jenny and crush Rocky, agree with the note-writer, but Claire finds herself blooming under Dr. Li’s high standards and finds comfort in having an Asian teacher in the predominantly white school. As the school year progresses, Claire works to find her voice both in her music, but also in her life. She admires her friends’ assurance and confidence, but doesn’t fully notice the pressure they’re also under and how some are secretly struggling. Debut author Con Morse trained as a pianist at a similar school, which shows in the way she perfectly captures the small details and feelings of practicing and performing. She skillfully explores the reverberations of Rocky’s mental health struggles and the sense of unease and fear the notes cause Claire.
VERDICT A captivating musical coming-of-age novel that sensitively explores racial identity, belonging, and mental illness.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing