Cover Image: The Violin Conspiracy

The Violin Conspiracy

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Member Reviews

You can tell Brendan Slocumb is a teacher as well as a musician, because he makes the music come alive for someone who knows nothing about the technical aspects of classical music or the violin. What a performance he put on for his readers! I am already looking forward to his next book!
This story educated me in other ways too. I did not realize how underrepresented POC are in classical music performance. Of course, I realize there is racism and ignorance holding back Black students and performers, but the incidents included in this narrative were shocking in their cruelty. And as the author shares in the afterword, some of these events actually happened in his life.
What took this story beyond a simple essay on prejudice, is the main character, Ray McMillian, loving, hard working, loyal and so very gifted. Watching him develop from a talented youngster with little money or support into a world class violinist was deeply rewarding. What made it especially satisfying was to see Ray stand up for himself against prejudice and solve all kinds of challenges Life threw in his path. We could all learn a lesson from this young man!
Brendan Slocumb is a true artist of both words and music!
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To me, this was a slow read. It took a long time to get into. I, unfortunately, wasn't able to finish
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4.5/5 stars (rounded up to 5.)

The Violin Conspiracy follows Ray McMillian, a man with a passion for violin and the grit to prove himself, as obstacles to do with his race, his family and his violin stood in his way to greatness. 

There’s a strong focus on racism in this novel, and Slocumb didn’t sugarcoat the reality of living with racism. Every time someone wrote Ray off because they thought he was inherently incapable or assumed he had malevolent motives made my blood boil and also sunk my heart. Throughout the novel, I felt as desperate as Ray was, wanting others to recognize how much effort Ray was putting into perfecting his craft, to not look at him like he’s a thief or simply fulfilling a diversity quota. 

Similarly, it hurts to read about Ray when he had to balance between surviving life and paying the bills for his family and pursuing his passion. His family, though important to him, provided resistance against him reaching his dreams. Despite all these struggles, Ray's grit and passion for music came through. 

A key message to take away from this book is to be yourself. In Ray's case, it was important to him that he stood up for who he is, and to not be afraid to do what he loves. This will certainly land with readers, especially those who want to be like Ray. 

Deep respect for Brendan Slocumb for writing this book which reflects his own experiences. If you manage to get to the end of this novel, please read the author's note because it's inspiring. 

Thank you to Netgalley and Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group for providing the e-arc.
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Thank you to NetGalley, the publishers, and the author for giving me the opportunity to review this book. I finished this book in one sitting. I loved it so much! I cannot wait to read more from this author.
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