Reviews for Befiddled
Befiddled isn't just a book for musicians. It's for anyone who has ever felt like an outcast (and many of us have), experienced stage fright or faced critical teachers. It's a great read that'll offer up some laughs, bring a few tears to your eyes and most importantly, encourage you to try your best.
Music lovers of all ages will cheer for Becky Cohen as she struggles to follow her dream. De Alcantara has hit a high note with Befiddled.
Life really stinks for 13-year-old Becky Cohen. She’s not even close to being pretty, has no friends except her brilliant 12-year-old brother, and her overworked, widowed mother constantly finds fault with her. She desperately misses her father. The family has no money for private violin lessons, so Becky is forced to suffer through group classes at the Y with odious, hypercritical Mrs. Stark. Although she willingly practices for hours every day, the girl doesn’t begin to improve until she meets mysterious Mr. Freeman, who teaches her to relax and actually love playing music. With his coaching, Becky pushes herself out of her comfort zone and dares to play with her heart instead of by rote, which pays off with wonderful results. Brazilian native, professional musician de Alcantara soars when describing Becky’s musical development, but other characters seem more stock. Readers will empathize with the protagonist’s struggles and will cheer with great satisfaction as she stretches to reach her potential.
Writer/musician Pedro de Alcantara has penned an enchanting debut novel with Befiddled, wherein believable characters are drawn with the hand of an expert.
The narrative focuses on Becky Cohen, a befuddled klutzy 13 year old, who is obsessed with playing the violin and her little brother Ben jy, who plays at being an editor for “The Splinter”. Becky yearns to be ready to play at the year end music competition. Their widowed mom, who works at a nearby deli to make ends meet, can barely afford to rent Becky’s violin and give her lessons with a heartless Mrs. Stark. To top it all off, Becky’s pretty “friend” Ramsey is a little virtuoso on the violin.
Ben jy’s cleverly offers us a monthly resume of his sister’s progress in “The Splinter,” together with jokes and his plays on words. Becky’s anxiety hinders her playing ability and her schoolmates compare her to “Paganini having spasms.” Not only does her violin screech, but she is also a dreadful volleyball player for her Sedgwick team, “The Cream Puffs.” It is not until she meets Mr. Freeman, the new super handyman of her building, that she slowly regains her self-confidence. A musician himself, he often stays with Becky and teaches her relaxation methods. Thanks to Mr. Freeman, and her brother, she takes care of a dog and learns a few playful tips from it. Becky embarks on regaining her poise, acquires a boyfriend in Damian, and becomes quite a good volleyball player. Moreover, she becomes a real virtuoso on the violin.
Understandably, her mom is very disturbed by the fact that Mr. Freeman visits the children when she is not home and threatens to cancel Becky’s participation at the music competition. When everything seems to be lost, de Alcantara fills us with amazed delight and takes the tempo to a magnificent finale.
The jacket illustration by Susan Farrington and the jacket design by Trish Parcell Watts (a collage of Becky with the violin, a copy of "The Splinter" and a volley ball) are very true to the story. Kudos to first time writer Pedro de Alcantara.
It is tough when no one listens to you. It is tough when you get so nervous in front of people that you always choke under pressure. It is tough when you don't have a best friend. It is tough being Becky Cohen. Becky is a very talented violin player, but has a meek personality that causes her not to be noticed, and if she is noticed, it isn't for something good. In Befiddled, Becky struggles to overcome her issues and become the great musician she knows she can be. This being the first published novel by Pedro de Alcantara , I found myself pleasantly surprised by the wonderful flow of the story. I absolutely loved the characters and enjoyed the pacing. Overall, I found Befiddled to be a wonderful story that can be enjoyed by all ages of readers, not just young adults. I look forward to more novels written by Pedro de Alcantara.