Mitch Albom

The Magic Strings Of Frankie Presto

  • 50-page comprehensive study guide
  • Features 63 chapter summaries and 5 sections of expert analysis
  • Written by an English instructor with an MFA in Creative Writing
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The Magic Strings Of Frankie Presto Summary & Study Guide

SuperSummary, a modern alternative to SparkNotes and CliffsNotes, offers high-quality study guides for challenging works of literature. This 50-page guide for “The Magic Strings Of Frankie Presto” by Mitch Albom includes detailed chapter summaries and analysis covering 63 chapters, as well as several more in-depth sections of expert-written literary analysis. Featured content includes commentary on major characters, 25 important quotes, essay topics, and key themes like The Bands We Join and Patterns and Repetition in History.

Plot Summary

Mitch Albom’s 2015 novel, The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto, blends magical realism with historical fiction to create a genre-bending work that is accessible for a wide range of audiences; however, given the complex themes of love, loss, regret, and redemption, the novel is best suited for a young adult audience and older.

A personification of music, “Music,” narrates much of the novel. The novel starts at Frankie’s funeral and is interspersed with anecdotes from famous musicians who “knew” Frankie and Music’s narration of his history. Throughout the novel, Frankie’s magic guitar strings turn blue when he changes the course of a character’s life.

Plot Summary

Frankie is born at a church in Spain in 1936 during a fascist raid brought on by the Spanish Civil War. His mother, Carmencita, keeps him quiet by humming Francisco Tárrega’s “Lágrima,” a song that will be important to him all his life. His mother dies, and a nun begins caring for Frankie. When Frankie hears music for the first time, he cries ceaselessly, and the nun, Josefa, throws him into a river. He’s saved by a hairless dog and adopted by a man named Baffa. Baffa does not tell Frankie that he adopted him.

Recognizing Frankie’s interest in music, Baffa sends him to El Maestro for music lessons. Unbeknownst to either of them, El Maestro is Frankie’s biological father. When warring political factions arrest Baffa, Frankie lives with El Maestro and becomes a great guitarist.

Baffa tells El Maestro where his life’s savings is and asks him to send Frankie to America. El Maestro gives Frankie Carmencita’s six magic guitar strings that turn blue when Frankie changes another person’s fate. El Maestro entrusts his friend, Alberto, with aiding Frankie’s journey to America, but Alberto drowns El Maestro, steals the money, and his friends abandon Frankie in London.

In London, Frankie meets the famous gypsy guitarist, Django Reinhardt, who asks him to join his tour to America with Duke Ellington’s band. In America, Frank learns that Baffa wasn’t his real father.

Frank reunites with his one true love from Spain, Aurora, but their relationship quickly dissolves as Frank’s fame increases. Aurora leaves Frank, and he marries a famous actress. Later, Frank and Aurora reunite again, but Frank goes out drinking one night. The next morning, a man mugs Aurora, and she miscarries due to the beating. Frank blames himself and wanders around Woodstock hallucinating and looking for Aurora. In his sadness, he takes the stage and performs a remarkable song. He then mutilates his playing hand with a broken bottle.

When Frankie and Aurora reunite again, they move to Waiheke Island and adopt a foundling girl named Kai. This is where a band of young men, The Clever Yells, seek Frankie out. Frankie agrees to record an album with them but doesn’t want a credit. The Clever Yells secretly record Frankie playing as he chats with his family, calling the tape “The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto.”

Aurora convinces Frankie to revisit Spain with them, and he decides to visit El Maestro while she visits her sister. He meets with Alberto, who explains how he killed El Maestro, and Frankie nearly shoots him. Josefa the nun, lurking in the shadows Frankie’s whole life, shoots Alberto instead.

Frankie remains at a monastery in Spain for three years before returning to Waiheke. Aurora dies during a hurricane, and Frankie seeks out the original copy of “The Magic Strings of Frankie Presto” so that Kai can hear her family chatting together again.

Kai, an accomplished musician, asks Frankie to accompany her to an awards ceremony in Spain. There, they play “Lágrima,” together, and Frankie sees Aurora, El Maestro, and other dead characters in the balcony. His soul visibly leaps out of his body, and his body crashes dead to the stage.

The novel deals with themes of history repeating itself, familial structures as musical bands, and musical talent as fate or salvation.

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