This is the first book I read after finishing up with exams. I got this book from the library. I read the author’s name, the blurb, and decided that this would be my first summer vacation read. I did not check the GoodReads review before picking up this book, as usual. And that’s partly because I have already read ‘ Five People You Meet In Heaven’ and ‘Have a Little Faith’, and feel that I can trust Mitch Albom with not ruining my first summer vacation read. (Do I need to mention one more time that I’m thoroughly enjoying my summer vacations? 😛 )
Can you guess the name of the book?
Title: The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto
Author: Mitch Albom
Length: 489 pages (Paperback)
Format: Hardback, Paperback , Kindle version
I always connect the words ‘Mitch Albom’ with ‘death’. You see, all his books have some element of death in them. In ‘Five People You Meet in Heaven’: heaven is on the word register for the word ‘death’. ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’ had the protagonist preparing a ‘eulogy’. Another word you’ll easily find in the word register for death.
So how does the ‘death’ theme tie into this book? Well, the story begins at the funeral of Frankie Presto, a rock-n-roll sensation, an excellent guitarist, the man with a voice like an angel and a human being who made many mistakes and yet learned to live and love.
The narrator in this story is Music. Yes, the element/talent Music narrates the story as if Frankie Presto is his child. One of his more famous children, to be precise. Famous enough to shake hands with the Beatles and rub shoulders with Elvis Presley (Did I mention it’s a fiction novel?)
Music then takes the help of Frankie’s other friends to narrate their memories with Frankie. These narrators are hotshots in the music industry. Like, real, existing, famous people from the music industry. (Hold your horses, I mentioned earlier that it’s a fiction novel). The inclusion of popular names in the music industry in the fictional story of Frankie Presto is a master-move. And if you didn’t know it, Mitch Albom is a musician himself.
Getting back to the story. The story begins with Frankie Presto’s funeral. The reason why the reader is hooked on to read till the end, is the fact that no one knows how Frankie Presto died. And, not all the narrators in the story know everything about him. They only know about the times they spent with him, not more than that. The people who knew him when he was six didn’t know what happened when he was fifty five and vice versa. And through the tidbits given by each narrator and Music, we readers can piece together this whole fictional biography of Frankie Presto. Mind you, this biography is something that will make the rest of your life seem so dull, and will totally immerse you into the life of Frankie Presto. Which, by the way, is the only way to know whether the book you’re reading is a masterpiece.
Plus, the part of the plot that actually drew me into reading the book: Frankie owns a magic guitar (you’ll know the entire history of the guitar once you read the book). The guitar isn’t exactly magic, though some may consider it so because of the music it helped create. The real magic is in the strings. The six strings. What’s unique about these strings is that a string glows blue when Frankie affects the life of a person with whom he has interacted. Six strings, six people. In his entire life time, Frankie has greatly influenced the lives of six people. This part of the plot adds magic to the book. And, an observant reader would tell you that this idea is kind of the opposite of ‘Five People You Meet in Heaven’, where the protagonist had five people influencing his life. Frankie, here, influences the lives of six people.
There are many characters in this book, thanks to Frankie’s popularity. I would like to throw light on some of the ones that I loved the most. El Maestro, Frankie’s first guitar instructor, has brilliant wit and wisdom, a fabulous backstory, and affects Frankie’s life in ways beyond Frankie’s understanding. Baffa Rubio is the kind-hearted adoptive father, who gives up everything for a son he never dreamed he would have, without a trace of selfishness. Aurora, Frankie’s first love and wife, is charming, sensible and a tad bit too romantic. There’s another character in the book that I loved, but saying her name would be like giving up the suspense in the story. Ask me her name once you finish reading the book. And, dog lovers, there’s some magic in this book for you too.
What I loved about this book (apart from its brilliance and fabulousness in narrative and plot) is the reason why it’s brilliant and fabulous: the cliffhangers. They make the book unputdownable. And, the twists in the tale leave you shell-shocked. I kept thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that, specially when all the facts were hidden right before me?”
This book would be ideal for lovers of music, who are encyclopedias of music trivia . Since this book contains a lot of musical terms, non-musical folks like me would have to keep the Google tab open while they read this book. But this does not dim the pleasure of reading this book in any way. Consider it to be your masterclass to understanding arpeggios and scales and chords.
You would be an idiot if you didn’t listen to music while reading the book. There’s a soundtrack created specially for this book by Republic Records! I haven’t tried it out myself, but if you’d like to, here’s the link. Or else, you could listen to the songs mentioned in the book while you read it. There’s a YouTube playlist for that (again, can’t vouch for this because I listened to violin covers while I read this book.)
However there is one thing I did not appreciate about this book: the flashbacks. Generally, I am a fan of flashbacks, because they make for an interesting turn in the narrative. But I felt that the flashbacks in this book were too many, and I got pretty confused at some points. I had to keep flipping pages back and forth to check if I’ve got the story right. Or maybe that was just my exam-fatigued mind playing tricks on me?
All in all, I would recommend this book to any reader who wants to enjoy a mind-blowing, feel-happy-and-blessed story with a lot of magic, love and music. And before I forget, yes, my rating for this book can’t be anything less than 5 stars.
I am also linking this post to Friday Reflections over at Corinne’s blog!