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The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music
The Soloist A Lost Dream an Unlikely Friendship and the Redemptive Power of Music Author:Steve Lopez The true story of Nathaniel Ayers, a musician who becomes schizophrenic and homeless, and his friendship with Steve Lopez, the Los Angeles columnist who discovers and writes about him in the newspaper.
When I pass a homeless person on the street, I don't tend to think too much about them. But what if one day you stopped and really took an interest in one of them? What if you found out why they got where they are? And what if you found out what keeps them there? This is the story of a man who does exactly that with a homeless man with schizophrenia playing a tattered violin in downtown LA. I loved the way this story shined a light on him and turned him from a crazy street guy into a human being. But it doesn't sugar coat things--it shows us that helping the homeless people in our cities is not an easy task--is not something that can be accomplished in an afternoon--especially the people with mental health issues.
The Soloist really opens eyes to the homeless and mentally disabled. The book, of course, is much better than the recently released film. One thing that did bother me-Lopez blasts those that have let Nathaniel down. He makes a point to expose Nathaniel's father for leaving and beginning a new family. Yet, the back of the book claims he has three children. While Lopez goes on and on about his new daughter and wife, he never mentions his other two children. Seems hypocritical, but I may not know the whole story. That aside, the book is well written and helps us see the unseen.
Ande V. reviewed The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music on
Helpful Score: 5
You will not want to put this down. It pulls at every emotion you have. Overall it is an amazing book. Sometimes you have to remnind yourself that this is a true story because you just can't believe some people actually live like that! My grattatude to you Mr.Lopez; Bravo
Steve Lopez, columnist for the LA Times, chronicles the development of his friendship with Nathaniel Anthony Ayers, a former Julliard student who developed schizophrenia and eventually ended up on Skid Row. Lopez had encountered Nathaniel playing his violin on the street and stopped to listen. Sensing a story for his column, he approached him, but what followed was a friendship that transformed the writer as much as the subject.
I had followed Lopez's articles on Nathaniel for some time, so reading the book felt like revisiting an old friend while getting the back story. It is as much uplifting and inspirational as it is depressing and haunting, and Lopez lays bare his soul while telling Nathaniel's story, which becomes inextricably his as well. Through patience and persistence, with the help of social workers as well as readers who became mesmerized by his articles, Lopez slowly tries to help Nathaniel off the streets, though the story is by no means complete as the vagaries of mental illness inevitably include setbacks among the small steps of progress. The articles and now the book did much to raise awareness of Los Angeles's homeless problem, although progress is slow. Hopefully the movie that is scheduled for release in November 2009 will do even more. This is a stark look at the realities of mental illness and the redemptive power of music, a heartbreakingly magnificent story and a must-read.
I really enjoyed this book. I think my education as a psychologist, clinical counseling made it a great read for me. I wanted very much to read after seeing most of the movie and believe book gave more background info than the movie. I did like the movie too!