Beautiful Music (Paperback)
A funny, poignant, thoughtfully rendered novel about love, fear, death, race, music, and the intense passions of youth.
“Beautiful Music is a sweet and endearing coming-of-age tale measured in album tracks.” —Wall Street Journal
“An exceptional, engaging, and compelling read from first page to last.” —Midwest Book Review
Set in early 1970s Detroit, a divided city still reeling from its violent race riot of 1967, Beautiful Music is the story of one young man’s transformation through music. Danny Yzemski is a husky, pop radio–loving loner balancing a dysfunctional homelife with the sudden harsh realities of freshman year at a high school marked by racial turbulence.
But after tragedy strikes the family, Danny’s mother becomes increasingly erratic and angry about the seismic cultural shifts unfolding in her city and the world. As she tries to hold it together with the help of Librium, highballs, and breakfast cereal, Danny finds his own reason to carry on: rock and roll. In particular, the drum and guitar–heavy songs of local legends like the MC5 and Iggy Pop. In the vein of Nick Hornby and Tobias Wolff, yet with a style very much Zadoorian’s own, Beautiful Music is a touching story about the power of music and its ability to save one’s soul.
— Washington Post
Beautiful Music is not only a testament to the rockin’ jams that propelled Motown to become reknown as Detroit Rock City, it swells with the beautiful music of a lively soul . . . Beautiful Music is touching, hilarious, and heartbreaking, much like the gamut of emotions you may have felt the first time you heard your favorite song. And much like that first, mind-opening musical experience, you’ll return to certain passages within this novel because like the perfect song, it hits all the right notes—something you can feel deep in your gut.
— Michigan Quarterly Review
[A] raucous bildungsroman . . . Zadoorian touches on white flight, iconic radio stations, and the racial history of Detroit, but remains rooted in [protagonist] Danny’s transition out of his shell. With its echoes of works by Nick Hornby and Stephen Chbosky, Zadoorian’s ebullient novel is full of energy, pain, growth, and great music.
— Publishers Weekly
This affectionate, nostalgic novel about a sometimes-troubled teen is a crossover delight with appeal to both adults and teens.
The story of Beautiful Music is painted with rich, exquisite detail and all the painful hyperawareness of growing up in a culture of mixed signals, confusion, and loss. Salvation comes through music. A miraculous safe place in which to belong.
— Nancy Wilson, singer/guitarist, Heart