Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Blues Lessons” as Want to Read:
Blues Lessons
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Blues Lessons

3.48  ·  Rating Details ·  182 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
In the lush countryside of 1950s Michigan, young Martin Dijksterhuis has everything he could ever want, living among his extended family and working in his family's orchard fields. Despite his mother's plans for him to attend college in Chicago, he has no desire to leave home.
One autumn, in a camp of migrant farm workers, Martin discovers a music that touches him like no
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 7th 2003 by Scribner (first published 2001)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Blues Lessons, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Blues Lessons

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Jun 23, 2013 Michael rated it really liked it
Recommended to Michael by: BooknBlues
I got a lot of satisfaction out of this character study of man who was disappointed in love as a youth and finds a calling in blues music as a method to transmute that experience into a fruitful path in adulthood. There is no dramatic plot to stir the action, just a quiet heroism in a personal quest to find a balance in his life.

Martin feels blessed in growing up in rural northern Michigan in the late 50s. He reaps a balance of benefits from his loving parents, a mother who is a liberal, bookis
Oct 16, 2012 Lidija rated it it was ok
Finally done! If I weren't that interested in how the story ends, I would have put it down very soon after starting it. I saw some reviews about it here and I am puzzled a little because it seems that I am either stupid or I just plain don't understand the story and how it should be written. Because everyone - well, almost everyone - says how good this book is and how interesting and how well written and all, and I barely made it through it! I mean, the story itself could be very interesting, bu ...more
Sep 02, 2012 Booknblues rated it really liked it
During the innocent time of 1954, in rural Michigan, Martin Dijksterhuis a high school senior falls in love with his neighbor, Cory Williams who is an African American. With the optimism of youth Martin believes in dreams and that love will overcome. This is the stage set by Robert Hellenga in his third novel Blues Lessons.
Martin and Cory are constant companions since childhood. Martin's family owns the orchard where Cory's father is employed as a foreman. One evening Cory and Martin sneak throu
Jul 01, 2008 Allison rated it liked it
Pretty good book. I enjoyed it. I am not a huge blues fan, so I didn't really appreciate that part of it as much as other people might, but the story kept me interested.
Feb 16, 2008 Chrissie rated it really liked it
Hellenga is my all time favorite writer! Read this or the Fall of a Sparrow!
Jul 23, 2010 Sara rated it liked it
Growing up in small town Michigan, Martin Dijksterhuis thought he knew everything about what he was going to do with life - run the family business, apple orchards, for his father. His mom had other plans for him - to attend the University of Chicago, her alma mater, and really make something of himself; something that she felt she never did, despite all the opportunities given to her. Everything changed his junior year though when he fell in love. His first love was Corinna Williams, the "Negro ...more
Timothy Bazzett
Apr 02, 2012 Timothy Bazzett rated it it was amazing
This is a big book about big issues, beautifully written, sensitively handled. It's about race relations and civil rights from the 1950s through the 1970s. It's about searching for one's place in the world, finding your true vocation. But most of all it's about the power of love. Protagonist Martin Dijksterhuis changes and grows remarkably from age 17 to 37, and he never stops trying to figure out what God - or perhaps fate - intended for him. At first he thought it was all about a girl named Co ...more
Mar 09, 2011 Brett rated it it was amazing
Martin Dijksterhuis (dike-stir-hoice, rymes with choice) is a teenage boy in Michigan during the '50s who has to deal with the problematic legacy of his first love. Martin Dijksterhuis is forced to grow up in a hurry when his attraction for an African-American girl, Cory, leads to certain developments and potential conflicts with his parents. The books follow Martin from his teenage years through his early 30s and the changes in his life and the life of his family, Cory, and her family.

I really
Aug 11, 2009 Marvin rated it really liked it
I like this one almost as much as Hellenga's two previous books, The Sixteen Pleasures and Fall of the Sparrow. In this one the son of a Dutch truck farmer in southwestern Michigan falls in love with the African American daughter of the foreman on the farm & she gets pregnant. Both sets of parents prevent them from staying together, & the guy finds the mother only 8 years later & tries to become involved in her life. It has some of the same themes as Half a Heart, but relates them in ...more
Jan 25, 2010 Mary rated it liked it
Good read. A pregancy teenagers results from an event at the top of the town's watertower. The white boy's father pays the black girls family to "disappear." When the boy finds out he leaves his family and follow his blues calling.
Jul 27, 2009 Peg rated it really liked it
The story of a young man's journey to find himself. It is set in Michigan in the 1950's where, during his junior year in high school, he discovers his two loves - playing the blues, and the black daughter of his father's foreman. Many twists and turns, some predictable, some not.
Apr 14, 2012 Vilo rated it liked it
This is a quiet novel, a lot like real life. The character stumbles through life, but gradually manages to figure out what is most important to him and how to arrange his life to maximize those things. Beautifully written, very subtle.
Apr 19, 2011 Cheryl rated it liked it
Not as good as I had hoped based on the Snakewoman book. But Hellenga does have a gift for dialogue.
DNF - This was the wrong book at the wrong time. I will pass it on at
Ami Jo
Apr 15, 2013 Ami Jo rated it really liked it
The beautiful, almost overly-philosophical novel I've come to expect from Hellenga. Be prepared to debate life.
Mar 11, 2014 Rosie rated it liked it
Mar 22, 2016 Lilee rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016, read-2016
Style and feel much like his book, The Sixteen Pleasures. His characters and the situations they find themselves in feel very authentic.
Jun 13, 2016 Becky added it
I read more than half of this book and although I liked the beginning and probably would have liked the end, the middle bored me and I went on to a different book.
Kathryn rated it liked it
May 02, 2009
Saige rated it liked it
Oct 28, 2012
Dave Olafson
Dave Olafson rated it liked it
Sep 20, 2015
Tom Wruble
Tom Wruble rated it really liked it
Aug 21, 2010
Sue Altman
Sue Altman rated it really liked it
May 10, 2013
Stephen Tan
Stephen Tan rated it liked it
Feb 22, 2013
Rob rated it it was ok
Jul 29, 2011
Randy Deveau
Randy Deveau rated it really liked it
Sep 06, 2011
Isabel Collins
Isabel Collins rated it liked it
Apr 27, 2014
Matt rated it really liked it
Dec 14, 2008
Jessica rated it really liked it
Aug 02, 2008
Angela rated it really liked it
Mar 18, 2009
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Arthurian Legends
  • Bitter Fame: A Life of Sylvia Plath
  • The Spy Lover
  • God's Kingdom
  • Beautiful Maria of My Soul
  • The Harp of Imach Thyssel (Lyra, #3)
  • Touch
  • Tender Hooks: Poems
  • Fall of Frost
  • Biggest Elvis
  • Chameleon Days: An American Boyhood in Ethiopia
  • Night Sky Mine
  • Where Memories Go
  • The Atlantic Sound
  • Adiós muchachos
  • Old Masters and Young Geniuses: The Two Life Cycles of Artistic Creativity
  • The Sea for Breakfast
  • A Handmade Life: In Search of Simplicity

Share This Book

No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »

“There was a time I didn't know your name
Why should I worry, cry in vain
but now she's gone, and I don't worry
cause I'm sittin' on top of the world.”
More quotes…