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Books Similar to A Little Life

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The Ensemble by Aja Gabel

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Synopsis of The Ensemble by Aja Gabel


This book takes the saying of "You can't choose your family" and turns it on its head. It's about four young musicians - Jana, Brit, Daniel, and Henry - who become closer than any siblings could ever be. They form the Van Ness Quartet.


These four would have never crossed paths if it weren't for their shared passion for music. They're an unlikely bunch. Brit, the quiet and beautiful second violinist. Henry, the viola prodigy who seems to have it all. Daniel, the cynical cellist with a reputation for being a player. And Jana, their tough-as-nails first violinist.


This isn't just a story about music, though. It's about the messy, beautiful, and sometimes heartbreaking relationships we build with the people who become our chosen family. You'll get a front-row seat to their journey through success and failure, love affairs and betrayals. 


A Brief Review of The Ensemble by Aja Gabel


The story follows them for sixteen years, from their grad school recital to their very last concert. Think coming-of-age, but with way more music.


The cool thing is, each chapter switches between the different musicians – Jana on first violin, Britt on second, Henry playing viola, and Daniel on cello. Plus, we get the perspective of Kimiko, one of the spouses. It's really interesting to see how they all view each other, and how they change as individuals while still being part of this whole quartet thing.


The author really digs into every little thought and feeling these characters have. It's not exactly a page-turner, and the story unfolds pretty slowly. Honestly, it wasn't a book I was dying to get back to, even though I liked it. It just felt a bit too heavy and overdone for me.


But I did enjoy getting a glimpse into the world of classical musicians.

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