The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto book cover


Author: Mitch Albom
Date Started: 28-Nov-16
Date Finished: 30-Dec-16
Pages: 489
Type: Fiction

Book Blurb:
“Narrated by the voice of Music itself, the story follows Frankie Presto, an orphan born in a burning church, through his extraordinary journey around the world. Raised by a blind guitar teacher in Spain and gifted with a talent to change people’s lives – using six mysterious blue strings – Franke navigates the musical landscape of the twentieth century, from the 1950s jazz scene to the Gran Ole Opry to Elvis mania and Woodstock, al the while searching for his childhood love.

As he becomes a famous star, he loses his way, until tragedy steals his ability to play the guitar that had so defined him. Overwhelmed by his loss, Frankie disappears for decades, reemerging late in life for one spectacular yet mystifying farewell.”

Main Characters:
Frankie Presto

Other Characters:
Francisco Rubio – Frankie’s adoptive father
El Maestro – Frankie’s guitar teacher
Aurora York – Frankie’s wife
Josefa – the nun who took Frankie when his mother died.
Kai – an abandoned child in the woods that later completed Frankie and Aurora’s family.

Setting: Spain

Thoughts on the book:

The story of Frankie Presto, though fictional, has made me realize how music has always been a part of a person’s life. From birth – a baby’s first cry is music to his mother’s ear. In death, music is what lays us to rest. I smile at the thought that it could be true, when Mitch Albom wrote in the book about how a baby gets talent from grasping something in the air in the first few minutes of his life. With that in mind, I feel jealous of my friends who may have grasped so much of it that they have become so talented and great in music.

Within the book you will read the statements “everybody joins a band in this life”. I found myself back tracking my life to remember which bands have I joined during these years. A band can mean a group. My analogy is that as we grow and meet different people – in the neighborhood, at school, in the workplace, we join different bands. From the day we were born, our first band would be our family. We join a different band with our playmates in the neighborhood. When started school, most hours of our day are spent with our “bandmates” at school in the person of our friends. Oh, that makes me remember the best friends that I had during those years – one even would sit beside me with a guitar then play Dan Seal’s song One Friend to me (I really miss those days). It was also one of my best friends who taught me to play my first song in the guitar. We join different “bands” in school – primary, secondary, college. Each band may sometimes play different songs. A whole new different band after college – at work. Not all bands last for long. Some ended gradually, sometimes bands disband without us knowing – for no reason it just ended. But there are, of course a band that last even if the music being played differs from time to time.

Just like Frankie, we all join bands in this life. And there is one band we will always go back to no matter what happens, the band where we will always belong to – our family.

I liked the story. I liked how it was narrated by Music. I like the how the story of Frankie revolved in music and how Music played a big role in Frankie’s life – from birth to death. Music was what protected him and kept him alive at birth, and it was doing music that he was last seen alive before death. It was also through his playing that he met the love of his life, Aurora. It was also music who took him away from her, but later it was then again music that reunited them for life.

What I liked most about this book is that or the second time, Mitch Albom gave Philippines a part in his novel. In this latest book of his, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, he used the song Maalaala Mo Kaya as one of the songs El Maestro taught Frankie to play in the guitar and which he played for the dead in the mass grave with Aurora. Not only that, but in the last few chapters of the novel, I was surprised Mitch wrote Frankie to live in the Philippines and become a professor in one of the universities here.

It took Frankie so long to know who his real father is and everything about his parents. By the time he learned the truth, it was too late. I feel sad for El Maestro that he died without realizing that the child he mentored all those years was his son.

About the ending:
Frankie Presto was reunited with Aurora. They became a family when Kai, an abandoned child left in the woods, came in their lives. They lived a peaceful life in New Zealand but decided to go back to Spain to show Kai where they used to live. Aurora died in an accident during a hurricane. Frankie, after Aurora died, spent his remaining years in the Philippines teaching classical guitar in the University of Santo Tomas. Kai invited him to go with her as she competed in the International Francisco Tarrega Guitar Competition in Spain. Kai won the competition and after she said her thanks, she revealed to the audience about his father, Frankie Presto. She asked him to play with her. They played together, then she went off the stage to let him play solo. Frankie played Lagrima – it was also the first song he heard when he was born. While playing, the last of his magic strings turned blue, and while he was performing, he fell and died.

Favorite Quotes:
“Every loss leaves a hole in your heart.” ~pg.126

“Everybody joins a band in this life. And what you play always affects someone. Sometimes, it affects the world.” ~pg.489

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