Broken Chords

Broken Chords

Barbara Snow Gilbert

The exotic, highly-charged world of an international piano competition.

Clara has been a talented pianist since her preschool days. This novel centers on a competition that will guarantee her a scholarship to the Julliard School of Music. At 17, Clara has been studying ballet for only four years, but knows  that she thoroughly enjoys combining music with movement; she knows at the same time that she won’t become a professional dancer and doesn’t have the skill with dance that she has with the piano. Gilbert relates Clara’s story with wonderful respect for Clara’s intellect and growing understanding of herself.


  • Ages: 14 - 17
  • Grades: 9 - 12
  • Pages: 192

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Recent Reviews

Gilbert creates the beauty and obsession of Clara’s music world … The great pleasure of this book is that the complexity is not resolved. There are surprises all along the way. It is different for each individual.

—Booklist

The tension builds to the competition, ending with Clara’s decision and small, unexpected gestures from the people she loves. A compassionate work.

—Kirkus Reviews

The strength of the novel lies … in the heroine’s in-depth exploration of what she truly wants for herself.

—Publishers Weekly

Suspenseful. And romantic …

—Horn Book

Characterization is strong, with even the relatively minor characters … solidly realized. Descriptions of artistic expression are difficult at best, but Gilbert communicates the joy and style of the piano playing.

—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Any teen trying to understand his or her path in life will understand Clara’s struggle. Booksell this one to all your students, not just the ones still practicing scales; it hits all the right notes beautifully —a definite winner.

—Voice of Youth Advocates

Honors for Broken Chords

  • Oklahoma Book Award

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