Book Review: The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

“All humans are musical. Why else would the Lord give you a beating heart?” 

This is the answer that the narrator gives to readers as to why we humans are bound together through music. The narrator, who is none other than the Spirit of Music, proceeds to introduce us to his most beloved disciple, Francisco de Asis Pascual Presto, eponymously known as Frankie Presto at the most ironic time of his life: his funeral.

This book focuses on Frankie’s life, and the people who touched him, which include his adopted father Baffa Rubio, his music teacher El Maestro, his only love Aurora York, a hairless dog with a certain vibe of Toto, as well as his most treasured possession- a set of guitar strings which have the power to change people’s trajectories, given through a ripple of events caused by a shocking twist of fate. It also focuses on the people that Frankie touches through the gift of music and the value of kindness. As Music puts it, “Everyone joins a band in life”, and this becomes a refrain to the kinds of bands we see Frankie join and some that we may tend to join. 

The book begins with an introduction to Frankie’s funeral, with many people that he encountered in his life, who give a eulogy of their own experiences with him. Some of these people include famous icons such as Marcus Belgrave, Darlene Love, Tony Bennett, Paul Stanley of KISS fame, and even Ingrid Michaelson, one of my favorite modern artists. These accounts are then perceived through Music’s account of Frankie’s life. The book is also peppered with appearances of many other artists through their words, career moves and experiences in the music industry. 

The concept of Music being the anonymous narrator is a witty parallel to the similarly anonymous narrator of  The Book Thief, identified as the Spirit of Death. These kinds of narrators are refreshingly unique from the omniscient 3rd Person narrators that one often encounters. Music takes the responsibility of unwrapping the biggest mystery revolving around Frankie’s entire existence and the circumstances involving his death, which is a journey worth having a seatbelt for.

We also see Music’s perspectives of the world in general. It dares to ask questions about humanity that we ourselves often ask, including our purpose, and how we can use our talents to the best of our abilities. But Music answers these questions to the best of his knowledge and surmises it’s true ability in the best way possible- “I cannot keep you alive. I lack such power. But I infuse you”.

When reading this book, one gets the idea of reading a biography of Frankie, even if he’s fictional. We feel his joy, and his pain as he travels the world starting from his hometown, Villareal, Spain to the USA, where he joins the likes of Elvis Presley and navigates a burgeoning career and romance with Aurora as well as his search for contentment. For readers who are movie aficionados, one can associate the tone of the book with the hit movie Forrest Gump (1994) and Pixar’s Coco (2017).

Many favorite songs make their way in the book, both renowned and original. One can find a musical companion to this book on Spotify. These original songs provide the atmosphere and an edge to the characters and define their relationship with one another. 

For fans of music, the Golden Age of America and the author Mitch Albom who has written equally engaging novels such as ‘Tuesdays with Morrie’, ‘The Time Keeper’, and most recently ‘Finding Chika’, this book is a must read. With 21st June being ‘Make Music Day’, this book is a great read as it becomes a homage to the gift of Music. It has got all the feels, bittersweet and unforgettable moments. I would give the book a rating of 4.0 out of 5.So what are you waiting for? Grab your ideal comfort food, a comfortable seat and snuggle in with the rollercoaster of the novel- The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto! ; )

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