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Beautiful Music

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4.09  ·  Rating details ·  419 ratings  ·  96 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
...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published May 1st 2018 by Akashic Books
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4.09  · 
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 ·  419 ratings  ·  96 reviews


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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
...more
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
Dave
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
Libby
“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 Canadian ra
...more
Sue
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
Kevin
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
...more
Mark
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
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Katherine
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.
Christine
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.
Mark
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.

Lauren
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.
Maria
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.
Sandra
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
...more
Amanda
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
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.
T-Roy
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.
Sarah
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
Tina
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
...more
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 begin
...more
Patty
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
...more
Laurie
Oct 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In 1969, Danny Yzemski spends most of his free time in the former coal storage bin in the basement, building model cars. He is already into music, as is his father, although their tastes run very differently. Danny likes rock, while his father likes “beautiful music”- modern songs covered by an orchestra. To better hear his Muzak, he buys a stereo unit for the basement den. Through the years, he teaches Danny to drive in his huge car, and they haunt the record stores together. Then his father su ...more
Carol
May 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2018, librarything
I love this book so much! This is the second Michael Zadoorian book for me, I have also read the Leisure Seeker. I have connected with both books so much. I want to read everything else the he has written.

This is the story of Danny Yizerski,living In Detroit in 1970. He has finished elementary school and he has to start high school because of the lack of middle school in the area. I identified with his wanting to be invisible trying zig-zag through the hallways. Like him, I was overweight and bu
...more
Elizabeth
Mar 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
Danny Yzemski is growing up in Detroit in the late 1960's and 70's. In the aftermath of the 1967 riots many white families are fleeing to the suburbs but Danny's family stays, despite his mother's growing discomfort and desire to get away from a city she sees as crumbling.
For Danny himself, he is trying to navigate a world in which he does not fit comfortably. He is quiet and awkward and a target for bullies. His father helps Danny as much as he can, buying a stereo and introducing Danny to the
...more
Maureen Paraventi
Dec 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I came of age at the same time and in the same place as the main character in this story, so the many references to places and events had a powerful effect on me. Having said that, there is a universality about Danny Yzemski's experiences - or at least his feelings as a teenager undergoing cataclysmic change in his life - that will resonate with many people. Danny's troubled family life and outlier status at school (he learns how to thread his way through the crowded hallways wi ...more
Gary Jablonski
Jul 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
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Michael Zadoorian is the author of four works of fiction. His second novel, The Leisure Seeker was recently made into a feature film starring Helen Mirren and Donald Sutherland, released by Sony Pictures Classics.

His newest novel is Beautiful Music (Akashic). Set in 1970’s era Detroit, Beautiful Music is about one young man’s transformation through music. Danny Yzemski is a husky, pop radio–lovin
...more
“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
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