Book Review: The Music Book by Dave O’Leary

coverTitle: The Music Book
Author: Dave O’Leary
Genre: Literary Fiction
Rating: 5 stars
Purchase: Amazon
Review copy provided by Enchanted Book Promotions in exchange for an honest review.

What does music mean? Can it be more than the sum of its notes and melodies? Can it truly change you? Rob, a musician turned reluctant music critic, poses these questions as everything important in his life appears to be fading—memories of lost love, songs from his old bands, even his hearing. He delves into the music of others to find solace and purpose, and discovers that the chords and repeated phrases echo themes that have emerged in his own life. The music sustains him, but can it revive him?

The Music Book is a story of loss, of fear and loneliness, of a mutable past. But most of all it’s about music as a force, as energy, as a creator of possibility. What might come from the sound of an A chord played just so? Rob listens. And among other things, he finds surprising companionship with a cat; another chance at love; and the courage to step on a stage again and finally, fully comprehend the power of sound.

I love music, but I never stopped to think about the meaning of music, at least not the way Rob does in The Music Book. Rob used to be a musician, but now he works as a music critic, and finds solace in the music of others, while everything around him seems to be falling apart. The book focuses a lot on bands from the Seattle area, offering a whole new music/reading experience for me. I even looked up a few of the bands to find out more about them.

The book talks about music a lot, as the title suggests, but at its core it tells a much deeper story. A story of loss and loneliness, of things falling apart, and of music as a force through all that, as an energy that makes things possible that didn’t seem possible at first. The book touches such deep topics, that when I finished reading, I couldn’t stop thinking about it, thinking about what I’d experienced while reading, what conclusions I came to. Rob, the main character, longs for the past, for what could’ve been, and it’s a struggle we’re all familiar with. This, more than anything else, made me connect with Rob in ways I didn’t think would be possible, considering he has a far different personality than I have.

I thought the book would make me sad – thinking about the past easily does that to me. But I never felt sad while reading, because despite how Rob feels at first, there’s a chance for redemption, a chance for new possibilities, for reaching the unreachable, new opportunities and chances. The prose is, in short, magnificent. The pacing is spot on from start to end, offering an engaging narrative and characters who are realistic and authentic. An unforgettable book, highly recommended to anyone who enjoys literary fiction.

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