The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto

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by Mitch Albom

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Mitch Albom creates his most unforgettable fictional character—Frankie Presto, the greatest guitarist to ever walk the earth—in this magical novel about the bands we join in life and the power of talent to change our lives.

An epic story of the greatest guitar player to ever live, and the six lives he changed with his magical blue strings.


Mitch Albom creates his most unforgettable fictional character—Frankie Presto, the greatest guitarist to ever walk the earth—in this magical novel about the bands we join in life and the power of talent to change our lives.

An epic story of the greatest guitar player to ever live, and the six lives he changed with his magical blue strings.

In Albom’s most sweeping novel yet, the voice of Music narrates the tale of its most beloved disciple, young Frankie Presto, a war orphan raised by a blind music teacher in a small Spanish town. At nine years old, Frankie is sent to America in the bottom of a boat. His only possession is an old guitar and six precious strings.

But Frankie’s talent is touched by the gods, and his amazing journey weaves him through the musical landscape of the 20th century, from classical to jazz to rock and roll, with his stunning talent affecting numerous stars along the way, including Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Carole King, Wynton Marsalis and even KISS.

Frankie becomes a pop star himself. He makes records. He is adored. But his gift is also his burden, as he realizes, through his music, he can actually affect people’s futures—with one string turning blue whenever a life is altered.

At the height of his popularity, Frankie Presto vanishes. His legend grows. Only decades later, does he reappear—just before his spectacular death—to change one last life.

With its Forest Gump-like romp through the music world, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto is a classic in the making. A lifelong musician himself, Mitch Albom delivers a remarkable novel, infused with the message that “everyone joins a band in this life” and those connections change us all.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
An author of spiritually engaged fiction and nonfiction, Albom is also a successful songwriter/lyricist. Here he blends the spiritual and the musical to tell the story of Frankie Presto, the greatest guitar player the world has ever heard. Fleeing Spain for America with a battered old guitar, he moves from the Forties to the Sixties, affecting everyone and transforming a few, for that old guitar has six magical blue strings, one for each life he manages to set right. With a 1.5 million-copy first printing.
Kirkus Reviews
At the funeral of guitar superstar Frankie Presto, who disappeared at the peak of his fame, the Spirit of Music looks back on his life from his birth in a church during the Spanish Civil War to his years as "the next Elvis Presley." In Albom's latest mystical tale (The First Phone Call from Heaven, 2013, etc.), Francisco's mother dies after giving birth. The newborn is rescued by a nun, but she's soon overwhelmed and, Moses-like, casts him adrift in the Mijares River, where he's found by Baffa Rubio's hairless dog. Rubio later runs afoul of Franco's thugs, and Francisco, only 9, is smuggled from Spain on a tramp freighter by El Maestro, his blind guitar instructor. In London, surviving as a busker, Francisco meets Django Reinhardt when the legendary guitarist is on his way to play with Duke Ellington in America. Francisco travels with him, his talent soon to earn international acclaim. Though a guitar virtuoso, Francisco neglects the beloved instrument to become a pop star, joining the glitterati. The moral? "Fame is addictive." Over decades, Francisco meets a litany of musicians, including Roger McGuinn, Burt Bacharach, Tony Bennett, and Paul Stanley of KISS, who reminisce in separate chapters while Music (imagine James Earl Jones reading poetry) spins out Francisco's life story. There are occasional odd descriptive phrases like "with hair the color of dark grapes," but Albom can elicit tears when he writes about loss, and he has fun with you-are-there butterfly-effect anecdotes, as when Francisco tells Hank Williams not to buy a baby blue Cadillac, the car in which he would ride to his death. "All lonely roads lead back to Music" in this sentimental journey that might be a mashup of the lives of shooting stars like Bobby Darin or Ricky Nelson.
Huffington Post
“A beautiful story that forces us to think about the concept of a life well lived…Albom brings his literary magic once again.”
The Book Wheel
“Albom can say in one sentence what others can spend a lifetime trying to convey.”
“Albom’s fable about the power of song carries you along like a beautiful melody.”
USA Today
“Albom’s The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto hits the right notes. Albom’s love for music is richly apparent... and his maxims about life will no doubt bring readers on a pleasantly sentimental journey about the bandmates in their lives.”
Yankton Daily Press
“Within a few pages, you’ll be as delighted with this sparkling book as I was. Start it, stick with it, and you’ll find ’The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto to be a book of note.”
Miami New Times
“As always, Albom’s novel has a larger message...and The Magic Strings of Frankie Pesto resonates with a kind of cosmic connection.”
“What an entertainer! Mitch Albom, author, playwright, screenwriter, nationally syndicated columnist - and philanthropist, as his audience learned, was a charmer…There seemed to be no end to this man’s talents.”

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.80(d)


Meet the Author

Mitch Albom is a bestselling author, screenwriter, playwright, and nationally syndicated columnist. He is the author of six consecutive number one New York Times bestsellers—including Tuesdays with Morrie, the bestselling memoir of all time—and his books have collectively sold more than thirty-five million copies in forty-two languages. He has founded eight charities in Detroit and operates an orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. He lives with his wife, Janine, in Michigan.

Brief Biography

Franklin, Michigan
Date of Birth:
May 23, 1958
Place of Birth:
Passaic, New Jersey
B.A., Brandeis University, 1979; M.J., Columbia University, 1981; M.B.A., Columbia University, 1982

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The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto: A Novel 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 24 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A master story teller weaves fact, fiction and fantasy into an amazing story. I could almost believe the character actually lived this life. The voice of Music is exactly the pitch, tone and empathy I would expect. Masterful!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Couldn't put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a musician was very familiar with musical tems and the musicians fun srory
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love it so far!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wanted this book to never end. Mitch Albom, once again, had me in tears. Beautifully written.
donnainhale More than 1 year ago
Reading this book meant totally immersing myself in the story and I found it hard to put it down. The characters were believable and the story fascinating, heartbreaking, joyful, and hopeful. I was sad to come to the end and find myself "missing" all those I met in the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I've loved most of Mitch Albom's books, and enjoyed them all, but this one was amazing. It truly was one of those books I just "couldn't put down." Among all of his fiction, this one ranks right up there with his first novel, "The Five People You Meet in Heaven," at least as good, if not even better. And he clearly is as well versed in music as he is in the sports scene where he first made his name as a sports writer for the Detroit Free Press.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Does Mitch Albom know how good this book is?
ConfuzzledShannon 11 months ago
Born with a musical talent no one can deny. Frankie Presto life is told by “Music” itself. We learn about the life of Frankie, as those who loved him come together to celebrate a man who can not be replaced. There is something I love about Mitch Albom books. The inspirational way the stories are told and each one get more creative than the next. The fictional story of Frankie Presto and his talented life, show that you can’t run away from what god given talent you have because it is part of that person’s being. I may not have musical talent but I have artist talent. I have known how to draw from the time I was little. Like Frankie Presto there were times I stopped doing anything artist but it found it’s always back to me. The same happens for Frankie, many times. Even though the book goes back and forth through Frankie’s life and death. I was still not prepared to say goodbye. I wanted to know more about Frankie, his wife and daughter. Even though I wanted the story to go on. I disliked that fact that the author felt he had to reveal Frankie’s true history, who his mother and father was. I think I would have been okay for Frankie to have never known this info because in real life you do not get all the answers. Mitch Albom has written another inspirational book. It sparks questions about life, death and what talent we grabbed for ourselves while being born. We reach for the stars and some of us, like Frankie, become one.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love Mitch Albom as a writer, and have told him so on the tram at the Detroit Metro Airport where I'm based. But struggled to read the first fifty pages of this book, and ultimately archived it. Can't see giving it another try.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Man and music meet beautifully in this tale of life. Heartbreaking and heartwarming, this story uses history and musical figures to show how much influence we have on each other. Whether we're giving money to a man on the street or taking our child to a sport event. Everything we do and we are, are all connected. Definitely will share this with people I know. Beautiful story and characters. Well developed personification of music. Wonderful use of fictional "interviews". The story moves well and is a quick read. Had me in tears several times. Overall a solid work.
YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
We are introduced to Frankie Presto, by his most trusted friend, as his funeral is about to begin. The friend serves as the narrator for the reflection of this musician’s life and proves to as trustworthy to the reader as it was a friend to Mr. Presto. The setting for the tale, although it’s telling will circle to globe, is Villareal, Spain. The reason this narrator is present at the funeral of a world-famous musician is the obverse of why he was present at Mr. Presto’s birth. The narrator is Music and music was the talent Frank chooses at birth, “at that precise moment Frankie Presto was born. His tiny hands clenched and he took a piece of me.” (p. 8) and he was in attendance to gather that was lent (“I am a loan, not a possession” p. 4). The story then connects these two moments, filling the pages of this book and, if allowed, will fill the heart and mind of the reader while painting a vivid picture in the imagination of the reader of what possibilities may lay within each of us. Frankie Presto was born amid war, abandoned repeatedly by those who served as his mothers, reared in love by tough, committed men who nurtured the talent he choose at birth. He was forced to use that talent to survive the hurt life brought his way. “Music is pain” (p. 66) states El Maestro, Frankie’s first music teacher and he learns the truth of that theorem well but, in so doing, he learns that Music is also an antidote for that pain as well. Repeatedly, the narrator interviews some of those who have come to pay their respects to Mr. Presto – Marcus Belgrave, Darlene Love, Abby Cruz, Burt Bacharach are only a few of those who chose similar talents at birth who were “interviewed” – all speak of some of the contributions Mr. Presto made to music and to their lives. Each voice highlights the influence music has made in how Frankie lives, “Do not cry over losing blood. Not (doing so) for something you love.” (p. 67) Music is a demanding talent; the rewards of developing it can affect the universe with its beauty. The brilliance of using Music to voice the biography of a fictional, musical megastar is two-fold: Music “knows,” and therefore the reader knows, information that is helping drive the life of the hero. Letting the reader to “peek behind the curtain” at how the universe may actually function. Secondly, the entire book becomes a meditation on transcendence. Each reader is in possession of talent(s), some develop those gifts to a fine edge, some enjoy them only for a moment or for a small audience, some have to return the talent early, as Fate kept them from having sufficient time to develop their part of that Talent before they had to return it. The reader is given the occasion to ponder the talent they possess and reflect upon how she/he has attended to its maturity. In joining such a discussion, one must consider how that “chosen talent” they have been loaned both joins one to all-that-is while transcending the very moment of living into Life. I have enjoyed reading all of Mr. Albom’s books. Each has offered me a glimpse of life that glimmered on the periphery of my imagination and brought it into a finely focused vision of hope. The pain life brings is unavoidable, the response given that pain is a choice and Mr. Album does not deny that pain nor the
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Been an Albom fan for a long time. This was one of my favorites with a unique voice.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Compared to the author's other books, he really missed the mark with this one. Presto is the Forest Gump of musicians and the story bounces around to much. Finally, not for a reader with no musical background .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Read this for sure
PamBo56 More than 1 year ago
Top Notch This is one book I'd love to see made into a movie! As usual, the writing was excellent and the story telling was even better than excellent. I highly recommend this to any musician to read and to everyone who did not grab the color of Music to read, also. This book is truly "magical."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can't put it down. An absolutely wonderful story. Also very creative in how the story is told
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great and moving story filled with many surprises!! Loved it
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Barnes & Nobles because it is a nice store. I enjoy going to the location at 1805 Walnut Street. I can get something healthy to eat and sit there with my Samsung Galaxy Tablet A or put leave my tablet home and just sit and eat my food. I purchased some very nice art supplies for my coloring enjoyment. I purchased a ZenDoodle Coloring Book along with it. Thank You Lord !!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book touched my heart. You don't have to be musical to love it, but I am and it was heartbreaking to finish it. Excellent, excellent, you won't regret buying it.
ILuvBooks25 More than 1 year ago
I have been a fan of Mitch Albom's books in the past but have not read one recently. I found that Mitch did a great job developing both the main character in the books as well as the supporting characters. In addition, he did a good job of always setting the scenes in the book from the burning church where Frankie was born to the Woodstock Music festival. An interesting part of the book that I had not seen before was how Mitch had the narrator be "Music". I thought this was an interesting take and was not sure how I would like it. However, after getting into a couple chapters of the book it made sense. If there was any aspect of the book that I did not like it was the way it jumped between years. I think it made for a difficulty at times of following along. I think if the story was more chronological it would have been easier to follow and would have taken me less time to read. All in all I found this book to be a very interesting read and kept me reading until the very last chapter. I would definitely recommend this read to people who enjoy reading about music and also history as it has both aspects in it.