In The Kingdom Of Back by Marie Lu, Maria Anna “Nannerl” Mozart struggles to please her father, constantly being berated for things as little as misplacing a notebook. Already, she is expected to aspire to marriage and motherhood, while her little brother is allowed to nurture his musical talent. Will Nannerl Mozart be able to claim a place in history as one of the greats, or will she be forgotten like most other female composers of her time?
Nannerl is exceptionally talented at the clavier, but is constantly overshadowed by her 4-year-old prodigy brother, Wolfgang Amadeus “Wolferl” Mozart. Nannerl’s first composition came to her in her dreams right before her first performance. Not long after that performance, Nannerl finally lets little Wolferl play the clavier, and she is immediately shown up by her brother. What little attention she had before from her parents is now diverted to Wolferl, and Nannerl feels that she’s closer and closer to being forgotten. When she starts dreaming of a magical kingdom and the visions extend to her waking hours, Nannerl is convinced that she is seeing things until Wolferl begins to see them too. Since the kingdom offers a chance to secure her spot in history, is she willing to take it, no matter the cost?
Marie Lu has written this book beautifully, as she paints every scene with real-life clarity and makes you feel like you are right there. Another thing Lu excels at is conveying vivid emotions in such a way that you feel connected to the characters on a deep personal level: you can feel Nannerl’s pain and sadness.
The book is a little confusing because it is difficult at times to differentiate what is real or imagined. One example is when Nannerl and Wolferl see edelweiss that wasn’t in her notebook a minute before.
I would recommend this book for ages 11+. I would rate this book 9/10 for an easily understandable plot, vivid imagery, and storytelling.