Allegra Shapiro was looking forward to a nice relaxing summer, free of school, free of softball, and free of worries. Her plans were abruptly changed when she found out that she had been selected to perform at the finals of the prestigious Ernest Bloch Competition for Young Musicians of Oregon. She was one of only a few finalists to have been selected from eighty five initial contestants! To make matters even more nerve-racking, Allegra was only 12 and her music teacher told her that he expected the average age of the finalists to be 17. Clearly an underdog, Allegra spends her entire summer practicing Mozart's Fourth Violin Concerto. She knows that she has to find some way to make her rendition of this piece mean something more than the notes on her sheet music, but this is easier said than done.
What I love most about this book is Allegra herself. She is such a rich, genuine character. The way this book is written causes us to spend most of our time listening to Allegra's thoughts. Therefore, we get to know Allegra very intimately. We watch her grow throughout the story and it's a beautiful thing to watch. She is very easy to relate to. She, like many other young girls, has a huge crush on a famous person, in her case it is Joel Smirnoff, the second violinist in the Juilliard Quartet. This is just one example of the many things that distinguishes Allegra as just a simple girl with great ambition.
Another thing that I love about this book is the role that music takes in it. Any musician would love this book simply because of Wolff's portrayal of music. To Allegra's family, music is essentially a way of life. To Allegra, music is her connection to her dead great-grandmother who died at Treblinka, a concentration camp in Poland. During her final performance, as she plays, she envisions her great-grandmother and feels one with her through the music. This conclusion is a truly beautiful moment. In my opinion it, is one of the most serene, most tranquil, and most heart-warming as well as heart-wrenching moments in any book I have ever read. It is simply beautiful.
I give The Mozart Season as a whole a 4 out of 5 daggers (the ending itself deserves 6 out of 5)