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

Beautiful Music

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  579 ratings  ·  124 reviews
Set in early 1970s Detroit, a racially divided city still reeling from its violent 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 home life with the sudden harsh realities of freshman year at a high school marked by racial turbulence.

But after tragedy str
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Akashic Books
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 Beautiful Music, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Beautiful Music

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  579 ratings  ·  124 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Beautiful Music
Diane S ☔
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Early 1970's Detroit. A city experiencing a racial change in its landscape, and this is where Danny is growing up, amongst the music and a less than ideal home life. Close to his father, a father who loves music, Danny is excited when his dad brings home the family's first record player. Trips to buy albums with his dad, he experiences his first look at sound. Things will change quickly in his life, and so will his taste, though not his love for sound.

Danny is our narrator, and in many ways he
Michael Ferro
May 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
As a longtime fan of Michael Zadoorian, and a lifelong Detroiter, I couldn't wait to read his latest book, BEAUTIFUL MUSIC. This novel is not only filled with the rockin' jams that propelled Motown to become known as Detroit Rock City, but it also swells with the beautiful music of a lively soul. Danny, Zadoorian's protagonist, is a lowly teenager that we follow from his early teens through driving age (a very monumental time for any Detroiter). After a heart-wrenching family tragedy forever alt ...more
Feb 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Kids today have no idea how things used to be. There was no Spotify, no playlists, no walking around with 6,000 of your favorite songs available at a moment’s notice. No downloading from the internet. There was a time when radio was king and your moods, your senses, all revolves around what was lined up next to play. And, there were only a couple of decent stations if you were within range. And, records were always rare finds. You flipped through the album covers and hoped you picked something c ...more
“Don’t you ever listen to the radio when the big bad beat comes on?”
---Bob Seger

‘Beautiful Music’ by Michael Zadoorian will appeal to music aficionados, especially of the 1960s and 70s, audiophiles, and those who just love music in general. The appeal for me was the ‘wicked’ aural experience I engaged in as I listened to dozens of the songs (on Spotify) as I was reading about them. The story begins in 1969 in Detroit, Michigan as ten year old Danny Yzemski calls in a song request to Canad
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Every once in awhile, a book comes along that makes you happy as you read it. This new novel by Michael Zadoorian was that book for me. It's a fantastically written coming of age story by the author of The Leisure Seeker but it's also a book full of musical references and took my memory back to happy times in my youth when I listened to the same music. An added plus for me is that the book takes place in Detroit, where I grew up and there were numerous references to people and places that I have ...more
Mar 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The first great book I’ve read published this year. Zadoorian has accurately depicts the feelings one has as a teen discovering music for the first time. Older readers will love it for the nostalgia and teen readers will love it because the feeling of hearing a tune you’ll love for life is essential to growing up. This one will sit with me for a long time.
Linda Robinson
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Zadoorian delivers every time. If you read everything he writes, you'll be a happier person for it. For those of us who grew up in Detroit and listened to the radio stations that Danny Yzemski hears in this nostalgic lookback at the late 60s, early 70s, the lookback is sublime. CKLW! I can remember when we discovered FM radio. And how much trouble we got into for changing the station buttons in my Mom's car. Shopping at Korvettes for albums in the remainders bin. Seeing these bands live. Beautif ...more
Jon Wilson
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you have ever felt the transformative power of rock and roll, Michael Zadoorian's new coming of age novel, “Beautiful Music,” is the book for you. When an author describes a 12" vinyl record as "an object of many meanings that will make amazing things happen," you know that you are reading something special.

Set in 1970s Detroit, we are introduced to Danny Yzemski, as he navigates his way through high school, his first job, and a less than ideal family situation. It's a time of confusion and u
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
Ferndale, Michigan-based Michael Zadoorian has written what might be his best novel, and certainly one of the best ones I have read in many years.

The setting is northwest Detroit in the late '60s and early '70s, with the city undergoing social upheaval in the wake of the 1967 Rebellion. Meanwhile, timid, nerdy kid Danny Yzemski occupies his time building model cars in his basement, and rarely venturing beyond the front yard of his Stout Street house.

However, when Danny's father brings home a s
Nov 03, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc-librarything
If I could, I go with 3.5 Stars for this novel. I quite enjoyed the beginning of this book, but I found the middle to drag on a bit too much for my liking. There are many things that I liked about the writing, the music, and journey of Danny, so I would recommend the book, but it's not one I'd pick up again. I won this through a librarything giveaway, and these are my honest thoughts regarding this novel.
Nov 26, 2018 rated it liked it
The Detroit race riots and their aftermath, from the perspective of a teenage white boy whose father has died, leaving him with his mentally unstable mother. But also with a metric ton of music references. It's a good read but I wouldn't go out of my way to find it. If you're looking for something, then go for it.
Aug 03, 2018 rated it really liked it
This one really resonated with me. Not because, I was a bullied loner, I was an average kid, fairly well-liked but I loved music, much like Danny and evolved much like he does, as he discovers rock n' roll, in his early teens and like Danny, I adored Led Zeppelin. The author describes the joys of music, with such insight and beauty, that I have to highly recommend this one.

Oct 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
I loved that the story was so full of Detroit and things that were familiar to me. It was a difficult subject to read about at times. I kept wanting to pick the book up and read just a little bit more.
Sep 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a coming of age tale that takes place in my home town and also close to the time that I lived there. Way more dramatic than my life for sure but it was a fun trip down memory lane, including favorite soundtracks. It's almost a cliche that music soothes the soul, but this was a spot on example of it, and a true hero's journey. It's a gas.
Jul 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
10 stars. One of my favorite novels this year. What a great ride, a homage to the D, bad and good, with my favorite thing in the world next to books: music. Bravo, Michael Zadoorian.
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Danny Yzemski loves music. His life actually revolves around it. He is growing up in Detroit, during the turbulent 1960’s and 1970’s. This was a volatile time, the time and place of race riots. It was also a time of great music.

Danny finds comfort from his town’s turbulent troubles, as well as his dysfunctional family’s issues, in music. Music soothes and comforts him as he sees and learns things that worry him.

After a devastating tragedy, Danny’s life becomes even more difficult, as his mother
Jul 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: highly-recommend
This was one of the most memorable books I've read in a very long time. I grew up a music geek, so I could very much relate to the main character. I also loved that, rather than JUST being about music, there was a fantastic story to back it up. The author does a fantastic job of weaving Danny's fictional story into the very realistic-feeling setting of early 1970's Detroit. By the end of the book, I felt like I wanted to be friends with several of the characters, and that's a feeling I don't wal ...more
Oct 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved this. So many nostalgic Detroit suburb references. Fantastic character development. My only complaint is that I wish I could continue to follow Danny and his trek into adulthood. Will he survive the end of high school? Will he attend Specs Howard and reach his goal of becoming a radio DJ? Will Danny's mom make it through her addiction, her pain, her grief? Will he? Does Danny ever listen to the Beautiful Music his father once loved and shared with him?

And finally, when will this be made i
Nate Hawthorne
Sep 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Really a 3.5, but not a 4 for me.

This is a snapshot of music and culture in the mid 70's in Detroit. The main themes are highlighted by the music the characters are listening to. An example of how a song can take you back to a specific moment in your own personal history.
Jul 21, 2020 rated it really liked it
As a girl in the Detroit area in the late 60s and early 70s, this book was truly a walk down memory lane! Fun to reminisce/ with some intriguing history of Detroit too.
Oct 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: book-club
Loved it. The setting, the music, the story.
Sep 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was perfect. So well written and full of humor and other various emotions. I even have a huge collection of vinyl, or records/albums as they used to be called, from The Stooges all the way to the Command LPs from a remainder bin somewhere. This book even brought out the feelings I had when I listened to these and I think I should play then more often...and then my wife and 3 daughters all start screaming at one another and I quicly remember the reason they have been collecting dust.
Aug 18, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: owned
This was a very quick read about a young man finishing high school shortly after the riots in Detroit. My neighbor Donna taught at Redford High, the school where the story is set, from the 1950's until the school closed. She was a lifelong Detroiter, and (as far as I could tell) about as unprejudiced as a white Detroiter could be who was raised at that time. The author certainly didn't sugar coat what was happening in Detroit or at Redford High, but I kinda felt like he very gingerly stepped aro ...more
Jul 27, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If you are a music fan or just a fan of beautiful honest writing, then this book is for you!
Sara Strand
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I wasn't born until 1982 so I'll be honest when I say a lot of the cultural references from the 70's went right over my head. But I think that's OK because Michael Zadoorian writes in such a way that you absorb the information, you can picture everything around him, and we can all relate to the middle school awkwardness. I don't care who you are, you were awkward. It isn't just middle school that's difficult to navigate (swimming naked in gym class? I'd rather die, thank you very much), but his ...more
Sean Kottke
Jun 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, michigan-books
This is a lovely coming of age story set in early 70s Detroit that does a great job of capturing the music-saturated experience of a teenage audiophile captivated with the music of his parents' age as well as his own (i.e., my experience of early adolescence a decade later). A dawning political awareness, reconciliation with family tragedy and near-dysfunction, and forging an authentic identity are classic YA themes explored here. An excellent choice to braid with "If I Ever Get Out of Here."
J Earl
Jun 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Beautiful Music by Michael Zadoorian is a coming of age story that highlights a very specific period in American history. This novel will appeal to many readers of all ages but will have a special place for those of us who were around Danny's age at that time. I was the class of '76 so I relate to a lot of what he is experiencing and how he experiences it.

This is the time period when FM radio started growing, through album rock stations in particular for the purpose of this book. AM becomes syno
Nestor Rychtyckyj
Daniel Yzemski is a typical teenager growing up in the 1970s whose life is saved by rock and roll. Over the course of five tumultuous years in Detroit, author Michael Zadoorian takes us on a whirlwind journey through the life of Daniel as he both grows up into a man and discovers his love of rock & roll.

From our perspective the early 1970s are not exactly regarded as a great time for music. The icons of the 1960s had either vanished or settled into a middle-age music mediocrity and the beginning
Nov 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Rating: 3.5 stars

This was chosen as the Community Reads book for 2019. Michael Zadoorian, a local author to the Detroit area, tells the story of a young boy growing up in the aftermath of the Detroit uprising in the late 60s. This story is about the music of the generation and how strongly music can influence our lives. This story is also about the racial tensions that persisted long after the rebellion of 1967. I very much enjoyed the parts of this book referring to specific events/places in th
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Will everyone enjoy this story as well as I did? I think a reader needs real characters that they can iidentify with and Michael Zadoorian always seems to create that speck of imperfect but compassionate quality in his main characters that draws you to them despite their flaws or circumstance. Somehow you know this person and it might even be you if your life had been different.

You may not enjoy this book if you don't like sadness or angst. But who does? Not me, and I loved this story. Zadooria
« previous 1 3 4 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Novi Public Library: 2019 Community Reads Title 1 11 Aug 22, 2019 01:17PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Bandit: A Daughter's Memoir
  • The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother's Life in the Detroit Numbers
  • August Snow (August Snow #1)
  • Hard Cider
  • The Women of the Copper Country
  • What the Eyes Don't See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City
  • Conjure Women
  • Remain in Love: Talking Heads, Tom Tom Club, Tina
  • Men to Avoid in Art and Life
  • Loving Eleanor
  • La misura eroica: Il mito degli Argonauti e il coraggio che spinge gli uomini ad amare
  • Eliza Starts a Rumor
  • Ti amo in tutti i generi del mondo (Uplit)
  • The World That We Knew
  • Incidental Inventions
  • The Revisioners
  • The Confession Club (Mason, #3)
  • The Engineer's Wife
See similar books…
Michael Zadoorian is the author of five works of fiction. His second novel, The Leisure Seeker was recently made into a feature film starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland.

Coming in May 2020 is The Narcissism of Small Differences. Set in bottomed-out 2009 Detroit, it’s the story of Joe Keen and Ana Urbanek, an unmarried Gen X couple with no kids or mortgage, as Midwestern parents seem to re

News & Interviews

November is the time for aspiring writers to get serious about writing that book! It's National Novel Writing Month, the annual event designed to...
58 likes · 12 comments
“It's not just about the words. It's about how music takes us out of ourselves, how it relieves our pains, lets loose something in our hearts, makes us feel better in ways we never knew we could.” 2 likes
“I like Alice Cooper too, even after I learned that she is a he.” 0 likes
More quotes…