Fiction Fest: A look inside Sarah Beard’s ‘Porcelain Keys’

Porcelain Keys 2x3 webWant in on a little secret? Sarah Beard’s “Porcelain Keys” officially releases tomorrow, Feb. 11, but you can probably find it on the shelves of your local bookstore today.

“Porcelain Keys” is Beard’s debut novel and is already gaining positive reviews. Like this one:

“I could not put this book down!! I LOVED the story, and the characters. It was a beautiful descriptive book. I loved that the characters were multi dimensional. The love story was beautiful and I liked how music was woven through the book.” — Stacy Haight

That’s just one person’s opinion. You’ll have to read the book yourself to decide if Haight is right or not. Here’s a sampling of the book to help motivate you.


Aria has recently had an embarrassing interaction with Thomas, her new seventeen-year-old neighbor, and now she sees him on the first day of school.

A tall, dark-haired boy with a black T-shirt and loose jeans strolled in. With his back to me, he paused and scanned the lunchroom. Even before seeing his striking profile, I knew it was Thomas.

I felt anew the humiliation of the other morning, and not wanting to risk running into him, I backed out of the cafeteria and fled down the hall. Turning a couple corners, I came to the heavy door that led to the auditorium stage. I glanced around to make sure no one was watching, then snuck inside.

I found the old upright piano tucked behind layers of black curtain and opened the key cover, then sat on the bench and locked down the soft pedal. With my sandwich in my left hand and my right hand on the keys, I practiced the melody of Debussy’s Reverie. I switched sides and practiced the bass line. When my sandwich was gone and both hands were free, I sank into the lulling passages without reserve, expressing the things that were not safe to say.

My hands moved up and down the keyboard, summoning great waves of music, each one crested with sorrow, loneliness, and anger. Tides of emotion rose and fell, gradually finding their way down my arms and to the keys, becoming harmonies that filled and then dissipated into the air like mist.

When the lunch bell rang, I lingered for a few minutes so no one would see me come out, then gathered my things and went to class.

My World Civilizations class was bubbling with chatter when I walked in, the various tones and timbers of students’ voices mixing like the cacophony of an orchestra warm-up. I skirted around the back of the room until I found an empty seat, but the moment I sat down, I regretted it. One row over and two seats up sat Thomas. He gazed down at his notebook with pencil in hand, making long, slow movements across the page.

“Choose your seat wisely,” Mr. Becket said, twisting the corners of his overgrown mustache, “because I’m starting around the seating chart.”

Feeling uneasy about sitting so close to Thomas, I scanned the room for another open seat. There were only two. One was right in front of Thomas, and the other was across the room, behind Dirk Page and Trisha Rosenblatt. I briefly wondered if they were back together, and which would be more tolerable—sitting so close to Thomas or watching Trisha give suggestive looks to Dirk all year.

Realizing I couldn’t avoid Thomas forever, I decided to stay where I was. But I dreaded looking into his eyes again. I dreaded the sympathy I would see there, the questions he might ask, and the things he might say. I wondered if he’d keep what he’d seen to himself, or if, within days, the entire school would be casting pitiful looks at me. My pride and reputation were at his mercy. I felt like a small helpless bird enfolded in his hands—he could either crush me or set me free.