Monday, April 25, 2016

Magic Strings and Dancing Flames

There are a few things that calm my soul and put a smile on my face. Hopefully, you can relate to my list and add a few more items of your own. Here’s my list:

Waves lapping the shore on a sunny day
Flames dancing in a fireplace
Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 in D Minor
Hearing from a friend or family member
Reading a good book.

And speaking of a good book (you knew I had to get that in somewhere), I’ve just finished a novel I want to tell you about. First off, it’s by Mitch Albom, the great author of Tuesdays with Morrie, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, For One More Day, and others. So if he’s the author of this latest book, how bad can it be?  Not bad at all. In fact, there are very few books that grab me, reach into my soul, take hold and won't let go. This is one of them. The title is, the magic strings of Frankie Presto, published by Harper Collins.  

What’s different about this book? I’m glad you asked. For one thing, it's narrated by Music. That’s right, Music. The premise is that when a person is born, he or she sees a variety of brightly colored lights each representing a particular talent. Whichever light appeals to the baby and he reaches for, is the talent he will have. The book’s character, Frankie Presto, reaches for music.

The book begins at Frankie’s funeral. Music is hanging around waiting for the service to end so he can take back Frankie’s talent and give it to another newborn. While he’s waiting, he tells us the story of Frankie’s life. Here is what Music says, in part:

    “I am Music. And I am here for the soul of Frankie Presto. Not all of it. Just the rather large part he took from me when he came into this world. However well used, I am a loan, not a possession. You give me back upon departure. I will gather up Frankie’s talent to spread on newborn souls. And I will do the same with yours one day.
    “There is a reason you glance up when you first hear a melody, or tap your foot to the sound of a drum. All humans are musical.
    “Why else would the Lord give you a beating heart?”

As the story unfolds, we see Frankie grow and develop his talent. Along the way, he interacts with Hank Williams, Elvis, Little Richard, the Beatles, and other well-known artists, keeping the story even more interesting than it already is.

Why are the strings magical? You will see that every time Frankie gives of himself to help someone else, one of his guitar strings turns bright blue. When his last string turns blue . . . well, I won’t spoil it for you. Just let me quote a snippet from the book of an earlier time in Frankie's life as told by Music.

     Frankie fingered a chord. Hampton choked up.
    "Ain't no tellin' what mighta happened to me."
    "You'll be all right, Hampton."
    "Thanks to you."
    "I'm going to sleep a bit now. Maybe say a prayer."
    The old mechanic closed his eyes, so he did not see what happened next: the D string on Frankie's guitar turned a burning shade of blue. Frankie stared at it. He felt a chill run down his arms and legs You have wondered about the critical passages in my child's story? Here is one:
     In the quiet of a hospital room, to the sound of an old man's breathing, Frankie Presto finally understood that, somehow, through those strings, he held life in his hands.

There are so many unexpected twists and turns in the story, you won’t be able to put the book down. I bought mine through Amazon. Whether you get your copy like I did, or at your local bookstore, or from the library, I highly recommend you get it and read it.  

Quote of the day: And the song, from beginning to end, I found again in the heart of a friend. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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