Bea has a secret. Actually, she has more than one. There’s her dream for the future that she can’t tell anyone—not her father and not even her best friend, Plum. And now there’s Dane Rossi. Dane is hot, he shares Bea’s love of piano, and he believes in her. He’s also Bea’s teacher. When their passion for music crosses into passion for each other, Bea finds herself falling completely for Dane. She’s never felt so wanted, so understood, so known to her core. But the risk of discovery carries unexpected surprises that could shake Bea entirely. Bea must piece together what is and isn’t true about Dane, herself, and the most intense relationship she’s ever experienced in this absorbing novel from Nancy Ohlin, the author of Always, Forever and Beauty.
Without waiting for my answer, Mr. Rossi sits down next to me at the piano and pushes the quilted cover aside. As he does, his tweed jacket grazes my bare arm. My skin tingles from the contact, and I want him to do that again: accidentally-on-purpose touch me. Although it was likely just an accident, and I really need to cut this out already.
He raises and lowers his elbows, then closes his eyes. He smells like his handkerchief, except warmer, sultrier. He launches into the first movement—initially at tempo, then more slowly, then with a series of fits and starts in the form of ritardandos and accelerandos. His interpretation is decidedly more measured and melancholy than mine, and more passionate, too.
He stops just before the shift to the second movement and turns to face me.
“So . . . what do you think?” he asks me.
Our legs are almost touching. Should I inch away? Or stay where I am?
He knows my name. After just the one class. I should correct him and tell him that everyone calls me “Bea.” But I love the way he says “Beatrice”—like a poem, and with that dreamy accent.
Oh, right, I need to respond. “Yes! Sorry! That was wonderful! Really deep and intense and tormented.”
“Schumann was in a great deal of torment when he wrote this part.”
“What was the matter with poor old Schumann?”
“Poor young Schumann. He was twenty-something at the time. He was in love with his piano teacher’s daughter, Clara Wieck. But Mr. Wieck wouldn’t let them be together. Schumann wrote a song for Clara called ‘Ruines’ because he felt that his life was in ruins without her. That song became the beginning of the Fantasy.”
Oh my God, how romantic. But I probably shouldn’t say that to a teacher. “That’s insanely interesting. How do you know this?” I ask instead.
“Conservatory. You’ll see for yourself, next year.”
Conservatory. I drop my gaze and study my nails.
“At Juilliard or Curtis or wherever you decide to go, you’ll learn everything there is to know about the lives of the composers. Who was in love with whom, who died of syphilis at age thirty-one, who had a morbid fear of the number thirteen . . .” Mr. Rossi hesitates, apparently noticing that I’ve checked out on this conversation. “You are a senior, right? That’s what it said on my class roster: ‘Beatrice Kim, senior.’ ”
“Sorry . . . I simply assumed . . . So you’re not applying to conservatory, then?”
“It’s just that I don’t run across people your age who can play the Schumann Fantasy like that. Or at all. You have ‘piano performance major’ written all over you.”
“Thanks. Actually, I was thinking more along the lines of . . . um . . .” Quick, make something up. “Pre-law.”
My phone buzzes. I glance at the screen. It’s a text from Plum: I’m done. Where are you? Meet me out front.
“I have to go,” I say, rising to my feet.
Mr. Rossi glances at his watch. “Actually, so do I. I’m due at a meeting that starts—started—five minutes ago. It’s probably not good to keep Principal Oberdorfer waiting.”
“See you in class, then.”
“Yes. See you in class,” he replies. “Beatrice?”
“The rest of the Schumann. Could I hear you play it sometime?” He sounds shy and hesitant, like he’s asking me out. My heart feels hot and fluttery.
“I’m still working on it,” I murmur.
“Good. I can offer you more unwanted advice, then.” He smiles, and I have no idea if he’s joking or not.
I’d better start working extra hard on that last movement.
“Consent is as delicate, as profound and as subtle as the music that gifted young pianist Beatrice plays in moments of near-mystical inspiration. Nancy Ohlin tackles a very delicate subject with so much wisdom, so much clear-eyed honesty, and such a deft touch that I was blown away. A quick read you can’t put down.“ – Michael Grant, New York Times bestselling author of the Gone series
… a layered and thoughtful contemporary novel. The push and pull between what is perceived and what is true throughout the narrative adds another dimension to the unreliable first-person narration as readers and Bea contemplate Rossi’s agenda. …Ohlin delivers an open-ended novel ripe for discussion as readers follow the plot’s twists and turns.” – School Library Journal
“A compassionate but clearsighted look at student-teacher liaisons.” – Kirkus
Nancy Ohlin is the author of CONSENT, ALWAYS, FOREVER, and BEAUTY. She has also collaborated on several celebrity novels, including a New York Times bestselling YA trilogy. She received a BA in English from the University of Chicago. Born in Tokyo, Japan, she lives in Ithaca, New York with her family.