Jenn Marie Thorne's 'Night Music' Is A Dreamy Summer Rom-Com That'll Make You Believe In Love Again — Start Reading Now!

You might recognize Jenn Marie Thorne by her two previous YA novels: The Wrong Side of Right and The Inside of Out, rom-coms that combined dreamy love stories with poignant, powerful examinations of politics and social justice. Her new book follows this trend: Night Music, out March 19, 2019, is a love story about two musicians: Ruby, the white daughter of an esteemed composer; and Oscar, a black musical genius who has become famous for his conducting videos on YouTube. The two fall in love — and face the challenges of their respective musical careers — during one dreamy, dizzy, steamy, swoony summer in New York City.

Here are the details:

Ruby has always been Ruby Chertok: future classical pianist and daughter of renowned composer Martin Chertok. But after her horrendous audition for the prestigious music school where her father is on faculty, it's clear that music has publicly dumped her. Now Ruby is suddenly just . . . Ruby. And who is that again? All she knows is that she wants away from the world of classical music for good.
Oscar is a wunderkind, a musical genius. Just ask any of the 1.8 million people who've watched him conduct on YouTube--or hey, just ask Oscar. But while he might be the type who'd name himself when asked about his favorite composer and somehow make you love him more for it, Oscar is not the type to jeopardize his chance to study under the great Martin Chertok—not for a crush. He’s all too aware of how the ultra-privileged, ultra-white world of classical music might interpret a black guy like him falling for his benefactor's daughter.
But as the New York City summer heats up, so does the spark between Ruby and Oscar. Soon their connection crackles with the same alive, uncontainable energy as the city itself. Can two people still figuring themselves out figure out how to be together? Or will the world make the choice for them?

If you can't wait until March 2019 to get your hands on this book, here's a surprise: Bustle has an exclusive first look at the cover and an excerpt that you can read right now. See it all below:

Night Music by Jenn Marie Thorne, $18, Amazon

Excerpt

I heard voices downstairs, the front door slamming like somebody had kicked it behind him.

Win’s kick.

I ran downstairs so fast, my heels skidded ahead of me on the carpet. Win was there, I heard his glittering chuckle. Then I realized who he was talking to and slowed down to give a glance at my outfit, a cursory tug, a silent groan.

Win was laughing again. “How do you know all this?”

“I got stuck in a tour group!” Oscar sounded dazed. “I looked up and couldn’t get out. It wasn’t bad, actually, so I just went with it?”

“Were they foreign?”

I rounded the corner to see my brother with his shoes already off, feet kicked up on our dining table, candy-striped socks on display.

Oscar’s back was turned. “I don’t think so. Some of them looked Amish, maybe?”

“Now I want to crash a Lincoln Center tour.”

“You’d get recognized.”

“Not if they were Amish.” Win leaned over to whap Oscar’s shoulder, like he was tagging him in a schoolyard game. “Enjoy your anonymity. Won’t last forever.”

Nobody had noticed me. If Win had been alone, I would have charged over, but I just waved feebly and said, “Hey.”

He startled like he had no idea I was going to be here. Coming from Win, it felt incongruously flattering. “Rooster!”

Nobody had noticed me. If Win had been alone, I would have charged over, but I just waved feebly and said, “Hey.”

He swung his feet off the table and jumped up for a hug, trying to lift me and failing—he wasn’t tall. I laughed as he gave up with a theatrical cough.

“I mean, greetings, young sister. Pleasure to see you again.”

I shoved him. “Why didn’t you text me you were coming?”

“Watch it,” he laughed, looking down at his arm. “I need these things. Yeah, this was a last-minute deal. And aren’t you usually at Wildwood?”

Nobody had told him. It wasn’t exactly newsworthy. But Oscar looked positively fascinated.

I shrugged. “Not this year.”

Win’s eyes went glassy. “Huh. Yeah. Breaks are good. What am I saying, you’re a kid, you’ve got plenty of—”

The doorbell rang, automatic subject change, thank Christ. Dad barreled down the steps to answer it. Before he reached the front door, keys jangled against the lock, and Alice slid inside holding bags of stacked containers from Citarella. Her black hair was pinned in a bun, curls spilling loose like ribbons.

“Did you just . . . ring the doorbell?” Win cocked his head.

Alice stopped and looked at us. “I don’t live here anymore.”

“This will always be your home.” Dad kissed her on the head while he pried the food from her arms.

“Especially since your place is, what, four blocks away?” Win chuckled. “Miss Independent.”

Seventy blocks, thank you, I moved downtown.” Alice threw her hands in the air. “And lovely to see you too, nice to get the third degree the second I step inside! It’s been a day, I’ll have you know. We’re saddled with this crazy Frenchman as a guest conductor, we can’t make out a word he says, so rehearsal was like a Pinter play, and then the line at Citarella nearly made me turn straight around and give up. But I didn’t, because you requested it specifically.”

I glanced back at Oscar, his face carefully expressionless, and tried to telepathically communicate that, unlike Winston, my sister was not usually this extra—but then I processed what she’d said. Win’s visit wasn’t a surprise to her. He’d even put in a dinner order.

“Aw, you’ve missed me.” Win opened his arms.

She shoved him before hugging him tight.

“Obnoxious.” She turned to kiss me absently on the cheek. “Hey, Roo.”

Then she saw Oscar—and went bug-eyed. I hoped to God that wasn’t how I looked when I first met him.

She extended her hand. “Hello there, I’m Alice.”

“Oscar Bell,” he said quickly. “Such an honor to meet you. I have your recording of the Brandenburg Concerto No. 6, it’s one of my all-time favorites.”

“Oh! Well. Thank you very much. It’s lovely to meet you too.”

Then she turned to me with this weird, pointed look. I just as pointedly ignored her, gliding into the kitchen to ladle the takeout into ceramic bowls.

Dad grabbed a bottle of wine from the chilled cabinet, then tugged on my braid as he passed me with a wink. I joined them at the table with the last of the dishes. Win mouthed thank you to me, and I smiled back.

“So, Oscar,” Alice said. “Tell me about yourself.”

Now this was legitimately the cruelest question in the world, but Oscar considered it while he scooped wild rice onto his plate. “I am a work in development.”

I glanced up to see his eyes glint and had to stop myself from snorting.

“What an interesting answer.” My sister nodded, the very picture of politeness.

Now this was legitimately the cruelest question in the world, but Oscar considered it while he scooped wild rice onto his plate. “I am a work in development.”

I had to hand it to her—if you hadn’t known Alice for years, you’d never guess she was interrogating you. Clearly she was as thrown that Dad had taken on a student as I’d been.

“I’m gonna start saying that in interviews,” Win said. “‘Tell us about the upcoming season, maestro?’ ‘It’s a work in development. As are we all.’” He stroked his chin pretentiously.

Oscar laughed. “Ah, you know, I’m a standard American seventeen-year-old.”

In no universe did he believe that.

“Makes the question hard to answer.”

“We’re gonna work on answering it this summer,” Dad said, breaking out of whatever mental orchestration he’d been listening to. “The composer part. The human part too. They go hand in hand.”

Alice leaned toward Oscar. “You’d like to be a composer?”

She glanced at me and I glanced back, conveying all the “Yes, can I help you?” I could in one slow blink.

“Well . . . yeah,” he said. “Not sure I can call myself that yet, but—”

“Course you can,” Dad said, clapping him on the shoulder. “Wear that badge with pride.”

“There’s a badge?” Win frowned. “If I’d known there was a badge, I would have started composing years ago.”

“Do you compose?” Oscar asked eagerly. “Is that something you’re—”

No.” Win waved his hand in an elegant arc. “I’m an interpreter of genius, not one myself.”

“That’s not what the Philadelphia Inquirer says,” Dad said, beaming.

“They just want my body,” Win said, and I burst out laughing. Win was kind of a playboy—tousled hair, young for a maestro, out on the scene, loving it too much.

I looked back at Alice to see if I could catch one of her classic eye-rolls, but she was still staring at Oscar, squinting. Um.

“You’ll be interpreting this guy one day, Winston. Mark my words.”

“I’ve marked them!” Win said, shoveling sprouts into his mouth with gusto.

Dad grabbed Oscar’s shoulder again, shaking him proudly.

I squinted. Why was everybody so handsy with Oscar? It was friendly, yeah. But strange.

I recrossed my legs under the table so that my foot bumped Dad’s knee. He dropped his arm, glanced at me.

“When did you and Ruby meet?” Alice asked.

“Um.” Oscar peered over at me. I scooped some vegan loaf. “Yesterday? I was playing her piano and I don’t think she was too thrilled about it . . .”

I coughed. He grinned.

“Wait, what?” Alice asked. “You . . . ?”

“Oscar is my student,” Dad said, fighting a smile. “He’s in the Amberley program but living here so we can work more closely.”

“He’s living here?” Alice scooted her chair back like she needed some air. Then her eyes widened even more and she burst out laughing. “Oh my God!” She put her hand to her curly hair. “I thought he was Ruby’s boyfriend!”

A forkful of vegan loaf tumbled off my fork and onto my lap. I scrambled to wet a napkin in my water glass and dab the stain, my cheeks a nuclear wasteland.

“Well, that explains the . . . how did you put it . . . third degree?” Win giggled, holding his stomach.

I looked up. Oscar was watching me, showing absolutely no sign of embarrassment.

“Ruby’s . . . boyfriend?” Dad repeated, as if those two words didn’t belong together in any context.

“I was surprised, but . . .” Alice blanched. “Oh. Jesus. Not because of anything . . .” She waved at Oscar. “Because she’s Ruby.”

Okeydoke. I stood from the table and started upstairs.

“Rooster,” Win groaned. “Don’t get sensitive.”

“Bathroom,” I called back, and la-la-la’ed my way up the stairs until I was in the hall bath with the door locked and the vent on, so I couldn’t hear them laughing anymore.

I sat on the closed toilet lid and stared at my fingernails, avoiding my reflection in the shower glass. Okay. Maybe I hadn’t been the type “boyfriend” went with, but I was in a transformational period. Was it so far-fetched? Nora didn’t think so. Maybe I would go full socialite and bring home a different guy every week, starting with Charlie-whatever at Yale, and see how funny they thought that was.

Okay. Maybe I hadn’t been the type “boyfriend” went with, but I was in a transformational period. Was it so far-fetched?

My eyes dragged themselves upward and there I was, scowling back. Wide-set eyes. Nose, cheekbones, chin.

She looks the part, doesn’t she?

In my head, Mom laughed.

All you have to do is put her on mute.

I covered my eyes with my hands. Counted to three.

Okay. I pressed against the mirror and stood, ready to face the canned laugh track again. Maybe by the time I got downstairs, they’d have gotten it out of their systems. If I sat still enough, quiet, maybe they would forget I was there.

But when I opened the door, Alice was inches away, fingers pressed to her eyes like she’d been crying.

“Al,” I said, touching her shoulder. “Oh no, what’s the matter? I didn’t mean to—”

“Dry lens.” She pushed past me to get to her drawer—still full of her toiletries, deodorant, hairbrush, contact solution. “I’m sorry about that, downstairs.”

“Oh. No.” I leaned against the countertop. “It’s just we met yesterday. Like he said. So it was . . . awkward, I guess, but it’s not a big deal.” At all, at all, at all.

“Well.” Alice looked at herself in the mirror, slipping her contact lens back in. “I for one am mortified. He’s got to think I’m some monster racist right now. In hindsight, it’s completely obvious that he’s Dad’s student! I just, I don’t know, it didn’t connect at first. And you two seemed . . . cozy.”

“We weren’t even next to each other.”

“It was a vibe. I did think it was unprecedented. You bringing a guy home.”

“Like you’re one to talk.”

Since her “Unhealthy Obsession with Young Gustavo Dudamel” stage at age sixteen, I’d never known Alice to even crush on anyone. As far as I knew, she was married to her viola.

“Touché,” she said. But a flush was creeping up her neck.

“Oh my God,” I breathed. “You have somebody. Alice! Who is it?”

“Nobody!” Her cheeks were now practically purple. “It’s . . . well, it’s not a thing.”

“Who?” I grabbed her, scooting the bathroom door shut to give us privacy.

Alice reached past me to open it again. “Seriously, it’s . . . no.”

Clamped lips, glassy eyes, conversation over. We’d time-warped to a decade ago, when she was a teenager and I was tiny, permitted to talk to her while she did her makeup—but only to a point.

Since her “Unhealthy Obsession with Young Gustavo Dudamel” stage at age sixteen, I’d never known Alice to even crush on anyone. As far as I knew, she was married to her viola.

She scooted into the hall, and looked back, softening. “If it becomes a thing, I promise to fill you in.”

I knew not to take it personally. We all had our roles to play. Leo was the zealot, Win was the prince, and Alice was the secret agent. Given her near-clinical caginess, I was surprised anyone had gotten close enough to prompt a blush.

Still, as she walked down ahead of me, I felt myself hollowing.

What was my role again? I’d somehow forgotten.

When we got back to the table, Win and Oscar were locked in laughing conversation, Dad typing on his phone—tweeting, probably; the man was J. K. Rowling levels of addicted.

I started clearing plates, letting my hair curtain my face.

“Bear in mind, this woman is six years older than him,” Win said, knocking on the table to punctuate his words. “She’s an adult.”

I knew this story. He was making fun of Leo’s first date, with a famous violinist when he was nineteen. Was this Win’s way of making me feel better or worse?

“And he’s in agony, like, sweating. He comes to my room with this huge bouquet and wants my opinion on the flowers.”

Alice sat, shushing Win halfheartedly. I thought of poor Leo, hardly my closest sibling, but still—not even here to defend himself.

“Flowers! On a first date!”

“I hate this story.” I let the stacked plates fall onto the table with a clang. “What’s wrong with flowers? For fuck’s sake! It was nice, he was being nice!”

Everyone stared at me—even Dad, who looked like he’d just arrived from Alpha Centauri. “You want some flowers, Rooster?”

Win covered his mouth with his fist, a snort bursting through.

Oscar started to stand, the careless smile he’d been wearing dropping away.

I gathered the plates and hurried into the kitchen, blinking away my anger as I kicked open the dishwasher.

The air behind me shifted.

“Let me do that,” Oscar said softly.

“No, I’m . . .” I looked up at him. “I’m good.”

“What’s next, then? Dessert?”

A new smile hovered—an unasked question.

Was he asking me to prepare dessert for everybody? Or if I wanted to go out for dessert? Or did “dessert” have a double meaning?

Through the doorway, I could see Alice and Win pretending not to spy, waiting for the next joke they could regale near-strangers with. Remember that night fifty-four years ago when Rooster was too awkward to talk to Dad’s composition student? We cry from the laughing! Haha—!

“Dessert. Let’s do it.”

“Pastries?” He offered me his arm.

I took it. “Pastries.”

We crossed the living room, wind in our sails. I grabbed my bag from the rack, gave a cursory wave, and shut the door behind us, drowning out Win’s “Um . . . good-bye?” with a satisfying clunk.