A Violin for Elva by Mary Lyn Ray Book Review

A Violin for Elva by Mary Lyn Ray
Illustrations by Tricia Tusa
Publisher: HMH Books for Young Readers
Release Date: January 27, 2015

Elva wants a violin, but her parents say no. So she pretends to play, rehearsing for invisible recitals. She imagines herself playing on a stage, performing all the beautiful music. Yet, she never learns. As the years march by, Elva keeps promising herself that she will learn, but then doesn't. Until one day, she decides to learn. At first Elva tries to teach herself, but soon she finds herself a teacher and even though most of the students are young, Elva is proud of herself as she learns how to play, fulfilling her childhood dream.

Although I absolutely love the message that one is never too old to pursue a dream, as a violinist, I found this story incredibly sad. Parents, please please please, if your child wants to learn to play an instrument, try to find a way. My parents were just scraping by, but they found a way for me to rent a violin and take lessons at an affordable price. I begged them for two years to let me play and eventually they gave in. As an adult, I have had a few students over the years and I have to be honest, learning the violin is extremely difficult and even more so for a grown-up. I've never had an adult student progress beyond simple songs, which is as frustrating to me as it is to them. Elva, sadly will never play the music she dreams of playing (unless she is secretly extremely gifted), which is a shame because she probably would have been a talented musician if her parents had let her play.

All in all, I don't think this book is for children. If it was, Elva would have begged and begged and eventually someone would have let her play. Or perhaps she would have discovered that she was better at playing the flute. Or her parents would have made her try to play a whole bunch of instruments first, even though she had her heart set on a violin. No, this story is for the adult who fears that it is too late to pursue their dreams. Not to burst anyones bubble here, but there are some things that really should begin at a young age, that is, if you hope to move beyond a beginner level. Playing violin is one of them. Perhaps non-musicians will get a little more out of this story, but I found the whole thing rather depressing.