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Beyond The Headlights
allan davis, author
SYNOPSIS: BEYOND THE HEADLIGHTS Seven-year-old learning-disabled Aiyana, who lives with her mother, Mona, in the northern Ontario Broken Deer Double Wide Trailer Park, spends her time playing Chopin on the church piano. The why and the how of “Chopin" she can’t explain, other than to say she feels like two people, him and her Realizing Aiyana is a musical savant with the gift of acausal parallelism, Broken Deer parish priest, Father Clark, contacts Dr. Jerry McCoy at the Faculty of Music, University of Toronto. But Aiyana’s mother won’t allow her child to be put into any gifted program in Toronto. Ten years later, Aiyana, now an attractive seventeen, after one too many abusive encounters with her mother’s current boyfriend, Hartley, runs from the despair of her backwoods background and arrives in Toronto with little money, and no place to stay. But Aiyana has a plan. Before Father Clark’s death a few days earlier, he had contacted Dr. McCoy, who promised to help Aiyana prepare for the open competition tryouts sponsored by Julliard. But when she arrives in Toronto she discovers Dr. McCoy has gone on medical leave. The Julliard plan collapses. Aiyana finds a night-shift job with the custodial crew at Roy Thompson Hall. The orchestra has finished late-night rehearsals for Beethoven Number 5 and gone home. Aiyana can’t resist. She sets her broom and mop aside and seats herself before the most magnificent piano she has ever seen. In the dressing room, packing up to go home, the conductor listens to the most magnificent rendition of Beethoven Number 5 he has ever heard.
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Loved it! 😍

A fascinating insight into the world of a musical savant, a girl who is a genius at the piano but can't read or write and has no schooling.


Beyond the Headlights is a rag to riches Cinderella to Julliard story of seven-year-old Aiyanna living in a trailer park in remote northern Ontario who, with no musical training, is capable of playing complex concertos on the church basement piano.

Aiyana is a seven-year-old girl, growing up in a cheap trailer park in northern Ontario, Canada with an alcoholic mother and her mother's various drunken lovers. She is mysteriously able to play beautiful classic piano pieces without having had any lessons - and without being able to read or write because of her severe dyslexia.

The story line sounds simple, but as it unfolds there are layers within layers of the strange world of the savant, those rare people who have an extraordinary talent, often in one particular area. Aiyana is befriended by the local priest who recognizes her talent but is fairly helpless to do much about it, until the piano tuner arrives and suggests she study further. But simple it is not, as when Aiyana, now a teenager finally runs away she is determined to enter the prestigious Juilliard piano competition. Unable to make sense of the street names and addresses in Toronto, she is hopelessly lost and is rescued by Eric, a young accountant who takes her in. As their unusual relationship develops Eric sees in her a huge number of similarities to his girlfriend who died in a car accident when he was driving, just a few months before. Both girls wore a white feather in their hair, and both believed in a double existence between this world and that on the Other Side.

Together they try without success to get someone at the music conservatory to hear her play, but no, there are other forces at work, including several vicious attempts to make her go back home to her mother’s trailer. Overshadowing this are Eric’s attempts to scatter his girlfriend’s ashes on the lake, and the strange way in which Aiyana knows where to go on the lake and how to still the wind and waves for long enough to scatter them.

Back in Toronto she takes a job as a cleaner at a beautiful music concert hall and inevitably she sits down one night, after everyone has left, to play the piano – but one person, the orchestra’s own pianist, hears her. He questions her and recognizes that she is a musical savant, a rarity, someone with absolute genius. At last, she has reached her goal and someone has listened to her.

Almost whimsical at times the story leads down unexplored paths and through many mysteries but remains focused on Aiyana and her divine talent.