Grace Notes
Out Now

Grace Notes

CBCA Shortlist for Older Readers 2024

A debut YA verse novel about the colliding paths of a talented violinist and an aspiring street artist during a pandemic. Set in one of the most locked-down cities in the world – Melbourne, 2020.

This song has a grace note,
a tiny note that’s there for embellishment but
can easily be ignored,
not played.
Tonight, I add it in –
just because.
We can all do with an extra note
of grace.

Grace Dalfinch is a talented violinist who longs to play contemporary music in bars, but her mum forbids her. James Crux is an aspiring street artist who promised his dad he wouldn’t paint in public until he’s finished school.

When Crux witnesses Grace’s impromptu performance on a deserted tram, he’s inspired to paint her and her violin; and when Grace stumbles across her portrait in a Melbourne alley by an anonymous street artist, she sets out to find its creator.
For fans of Cath Crowley and Pip Harry.

Teacher's Notes


“A classic in the making; Grace Notes is a vital balm of a book, a story to press into everybody’s hands.”

Danielle Binks

“Poetry, music and art, woven together in an uplifting story about endless lockdowns and first love.”

Nova Weetman

“Heart and soul triumph over Covid lockdowns and restrictions . . . Karen has used the verse novel to beguile, dance and demand layers of emotion and depth that only poetry can sustain. A masterful debut!”

Lorraine Marwood

“Like the grace note of the title, this beautiful story strikes the perfect tone, mixing colour, light and music at a time when we needed it most.”

Nicole Hayes


  • An advocacy of harmony pervades GRACE NOTES, a compelling rallying cry for the pursuit of passion, of perseverance in the face of adversity, and the essential work of artists. Two teenagers mindful of filial obligation and responsibility, yet daring to follow their creative impulse, Grace and Crux could well become classic cult characters. -Richard Cotter, Sydney Arts Guide
  • In Grace Notes, Comer captures the beats of Melbourne’s 2020 and the unique experience of a generation of teens in one of the most locked-down cities in the world. -Lefa Singleton Norton, Books and Publishing
  • I can’t recommend this stunning debut novel highly enough. It explores the challenges imposed by the pandemic but is also a beautiful rendering of how much we need art to sustain us during tough times. This highly accessible story will inspire readers to think about art and its role in society. -Angela Crocombe, Readings Kids Bookshop
  • Grace Notes is a masterful exploration of two teens who are determined to make their own way in the most difficult of situations, residents in the world’s most locked down city. Karen Comer touches on many elements of the pandemic, including isolation, family, death, domestic violence, and mental health in the most sensitive and articulate way that is sure to allow the reader to make easy connections throughout the story. This verse novel is beautifully written and hard to put down. -Kellie Nissen, Buzz Words Magazine
  • The conflict revolves around Grace and Crux meeting in person, in secret. They have never really defied their parents and yet their mutual attraction is hard to resist. This part of the story plays out beautifully as readers expect, but there are a few side plots which add drama and authenticity – Crux’s new neighbour’s volatile behaviour is particularly affecting. By the end, readers are well and truly immersed in the lives of all these characters and will be satisfied (if a little sad) by the resolution. -Trish Buckley, CBCA Reading Time
  • The resolution provides really good messages about honesty and assertive communication. The characters are mostly acting from good motives; the conflicts can only be resolved by talking and listening, and being open to each other. -Helen Eddy, Read Plus

Teacher's Notes

About Karen

Karen Comer is a writer and freelance editor, and she presents writing workshops to children and adults. Earlier in her career, she worked in educational publishing and was the editor for children’s art magazine BIG. She lives in Melbourne.

About Karen