aka The Frazzled Mom
• Hardcover: 512 pages
• Publisher: Harper (November 10, 2015)
Mitch Albom creates his most unforgettable character—Frankie Presto, the greatest guitarist ever to walk the earth—in this magical novel about the power of talent to change our lives.
In Mitch Albom’s epic new novel, the voice of Music narrates the tale of its most beloved disciple, Frankie Presto, a Spanish war orphan raised by a blind music teacher. At nine years old, Frankie is sent to America in the bottom of a boat. His only possession is an old guitar and six magical strings.
But Frankie’s talent is touched by the gods, and it weaves him through the musical landscape of the twentieth century, from classical to jazz to rock and roll. Along the way, Frankie influences many artists: he translates for Django Reinhardt, advises Little Richard, backs up Elvis Presley, and counsels Hank Williams.
Frankie elevates to a rock star himself, yet his gift becomes his burden, as he realizes that he can actually affect people’s futures: his guitar strings turn blue whenever a life is altered. Overwhelmed by life, loss, and this power, he disappears for years, only to reemerge in a spectacular and mysterious farewell.
With its Forrest Gump–like journey through the music world, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto is a classic in the making. A lifelong musician himself, Mitch Albom delivers an unforgettable story. “Everyone joins a band in this life,” he observes, be it through music, family, friends, or lovers. And those connections change the world.
The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto is a unique story in which the narrator is Music. It may seem odd, but it works. Music reminds me of perhaps the Grim Reaper. Not that the spirit/talent takes souls, but that he has a job outside of daily human life. He bestows gifts of himself onto each newborn. Some receive a little while others like Frankie, receive quite a bit more.
The story begins at Frankie’s funeral, the same Frankie who had risen to the fame of superstar guitarist. As Music begins describes the man who is to be honor, he takes us back as far as Frankie’s birth during the Spanish civil war. Music continues to weave this tale, taking us through various stages in the boy’s life, from when he first picture up a guitar, to when he impersonator Elvis on stage and on and on. Frankie meets with many famous musicians/singers, including Hank Williams, Tony Bennet and more.
My first impression of the title? Eh, it certainly didn’t catch my attention. And the description was far from enticing. However, because I was familiar with Albom, I wanted to give this novel a try. I wasn’t disappointed.
Some say they were disappointed with, or didn’t like the fact that Music was the narrator. I thought it was a different way to tell the story. It worked well for me, so don’t let that deter you from reading this book.
Is there a moral that we are supposed to take from this story? I’d say that depends on the reader. Some might say that the search for fame is akin to an addiction, looking for the next high. That feeling and desire never stops, or if it does, it’s abrupt and unwelcome. Or is the moral that we all have talents bestowed on us and it is our goal to discover and use those? Or is it merely that music has a huge impact on us? The scene where a man was angry with a woman (I won’t get too detailed) and Frankie plays the guitar so well, so fast, it becomes mesmerizing. Like David playing to King Saul, the man’s answer dissipates and the woman is able to escape without injury.
Take what you will from the book. It is an enjoyable read! Now if only there were a soundtrack album to go along with it…
Readers might be familiar with other works by Mitch Albom including Tuesdays with Morrie, one book I truly enjoyed reading.
Mitch Albom is a bestselling novelist, a screen-writer, a playwright, and an award-winning journalist. He is the author of six consecutive number-one New York Times bestsellers and has sold more than thirty-four million copies of his books in forty-two languages worldwide. Tuesdays with Morrie, which spent four years atop the New York Times list, is the bestselling memoir of all time.
Albom has founded seven charities, including the first-ever full-time medical clinic for homeless children in America. He also operates an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He lives with his wife, Janine, in suburban Detroit.