The soloist [electronic resource] : a lost dream, an unlikely friendship, and the redemptive power of music, by Steve Lopez. Blackstone Audio, 2008.

This is Sacramento's "One Book" title for 2009, and the library, in partnership with other local agencies, is planning a series of programs in the next month around it, including an author talk on September 24.

Musical talent runs in my family. My grandfather formed and outfitted the Waianae Plantation band, purchasing the instruments in San Francisco and teaching the members to play them. He was also an in-demand pianist, violinist, and zither player, as reported in the society pages of the local newspapers. His children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren are also musical, and became professional and amateur musicians. I learned to read music before I could read words. We also have a disabled musician in our family. I think that's why this story resonated with me.

The soloist, Nathaniel Ayers, is a former student at Juilliard who dropped out of school and society when he became incapacitated by schizophrenia. He fetched up on Skid Row in Los Angeles, where a reporter, author Steve Lopez, hearing the music he was making on a broken-down, 2-stringed violin, saw a story worth telling. Over the next year, he befriended Mr. Ayers and persuaded him to move into a shelter and take up music again. The frustrations of dealing with the homeless mentally ill are clearly expressed, making the small gains Mr. Ayers has achieved even more precious. Overall, the transformations that affect all the characters are emotional and durable, and readers are not exempt!