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"When Steve Lopez sees Nathaniel Ayers playing his heart out on a two-string violin on Los Angeles' Skid Row, he finds it impossible to walk away. At first, he is drawn by the opportunity to crank out another column for the Los Angeles Times, just one more item on an ever-growing to-do list: "Violin Man." But what Lopez begins to unearth about the mysterious street musicia "When Steve Lopez sees Nathaniel Ayers playing his heart out on a two-string violin on Los Angeles' Skid Row, he finds it impossible to walk away. At first, he is drawn by the opportunity to crank out another column for the Los Angeles Times, just one more item on an ever-growing to-do list: "Violin Man." But what Lopez begins to unearth about the mysterious street musician leaves an indelible impression." "More than thirty years earlier, Ayers had been a promising classical bass student at Juilliard - ambitious, charming, and one of the few African-Americans - until he gradually lost his ability to function, overcome by a mental breakdown. When Lopez finds him, Ayers is alone, suspicious of everyone, and deeply troubled, but glimmers of that brilliance are still there." From an impromptu concert of Beethoven's Eighth in the Second Street tunnel to a performance of Bach's Unaccompanied Cello Suites on Skid Row, the two men learn to communicate through Ayers's music. The Soloist is a story about unwavering commitment, artistic devotion, and the transformative magic of music.


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"When Steve Lopez sees Nathaniel Ayers playing his heart out on a two-string violin on Los Angeles' Skid Row, he finds it impossible to walk away. At first, he is drawn by the opportunity to crank out another column for the Los Angeles Times, just one more item on an ever-growing to-do list: "Violin Man." But what Lopez begins to unearth about the mysterious street musicia "When Steve Lopez sees Nathaniel Ayers playing his heart out on a two-string violin on Los Angeles' Skid Row, he finds it impossible to walk away. At first, he is drawn by the opportunity to crank out another column for the Los Angeles Times, just one more item on an ever-growing to-do list: "Violin Man." But what Lopez begins to unearth about the mysterious street musician leaves an indelible impression." "More than thirty years earlier, Ayers had been a promising classical bass student at Juilliard - ambitious, charming, and one of the few African-Americans - until he gradually lost his ability to function, overcome by a mental breakdown. When Lopez finds him, Ayers is alone, suspicious of everyone, and deeply troubled, but glimmers of that brilliance are still there." From an impromptu concert of Beethoven's Eighth in the Second Street tunnel to a performance of Bach's Unaccompanied Cello Suites on Skid Row, the two men learn to communicate through Ayers's music. The Soloist is a story about unwavering commitment, artistic devotion, and the transformative magic of music.

30 review for The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music

  1. 5 out of 5

    Becca

    There was a homeless guy that my dad let stay in our unfinished house when I was a kid-- Greg. He stacked up all the slate tiles neatly... and sliced apart the antique bannister poles. I fell once and he rushed over with a first aid kit and doused my knee with witch hazel and bandaged me up. Then he stole the radio and threatened to kill my dad with a baseball bat. After he got violent, cops came, and Greg didn't come back to the house. As a kid I was fascinated and terrified and curious, and to There was a homeless guy that my dad let stay in our unfinished house when I was a kid-- Greg. He stacked up all the slate tiles neatly... and sliced apart the antique bannister poles. I fell once and he rushed over with a first aid kit and doused my knee with witch hazel and bandaged me up. Then he stole the radio and threatened to kill my dad with a baseball bat. After he got violent, cops came, and Greg didn't come back to the house. As a kid I was fascinated and terrified and curious, and totally thrilled when I spotted Greg, months later, on the metro, wearing my dad's walkman. Greg stayed a mystery-- one in a sea of unknown tragic lives. In this story, Steve Lopez, the intrepid journalist, takes us into the life of Nathaniel Ayers, a Julliard musician, and a homeless schizophrenic. And we readers and sit by safely, applaud Ayers for his progress and Lopez for his charity where we don't dare to go. Lopez is a straightforward writer-- his reporterly style reminds me of Heat: Driven middle-aged reporter follows impossible subject matter to dangerous personal limits, and comes out of the experience transformed! The Soloist is not really the story of a homeless musician's recovery-- it's Lopez own journey. He realizes that Mr. Ayers (as he comes to call him) doesn't want, or possibly need, the kind of quick fix that would make a good "happily ever after" column. Lopez is obsessed with Mr. Ayers progress and his backsliding, and feels personally accountable for his public and quantifiable success. In order for his column to be more than shock value and exploitation, he feels that something positive has to come of their relationship. In the end, he decides that the positive transformation has been more in his own outlook than in Mr. Ayers life. p196: "Nathaniel turns my gaze inward. He has me examining what I do for a living and how I relate to the world as a journalist and as a citizen. Despite the many frustrations he presents, I'll never have a richer reward than knowing him well enough to tell his story." I loved Lopez's description of the night he spent on Skid Row with Mr. Ayers. He walks by the addicts and dealers and broken veterans and prostitutes it's an still and uneasy dream. 62: "I'd make an easy mark for a quick mugging. But there's nothing behind me except my shadow. Still, my flesh rises as the man slides by like a shark." Bravo, Mr. Lopez! He never becomes a social worker, he's not an expert on mental health, he doesn't have any big answers to these enormous social problems that Nathaniel symbolizes-- but I don't think this book is trying for anything that big. It's just the story of this strange and unbalanced friendship. It's compelling because it feels familiar. I could imagine myself in a situation like this-- wanting to help, not wanting to get hurt, wanting to understand but not be sucked into the undertow.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Daniel

    "The Soloist"'s story is so well-known at this point -- grizzled newspaper columnist befriends once-promising classical musician whose schizophrenia has left him long homeless -- that there's little need for me to recount it here. Steve Lopez's writing is less that of a top-tier author and more that of a solid reporter (today's poetry is tomorrow's birdcage liner), but the true story is well-served by Lopez's relatively unadorned and straightforward prose. While Nathaniel Anthony Ayers's story wa "The Soloist"'s story is so well-known at this point -- grizzled newspaper columnist befriends once-promising classical musician whose schizophrenia has left him long homeless -- that there's little need for me to recount it here. Steve Lopez's writing is less that of a top-tier author and more that of a solid reporter (today's poetry is tomorrow's birdcage liner), but the true story is well-served by Lopez's relatively unadorned and straightforward prose. While Nathaniel Anthony Ayers's story was well-told in Lopez's original columns -- stories I read when they first ran in the Los Angeles Times years back -- "The Soloist" offers a more cohesive version of the musician's travails. There's some filler to bring the story to book length, but not much. To call Ayers's story heartbreaking would be a severe understatement. While any story about a man living on the streets because of mental illness would be wrenching, when the man is not only as talented as Ayers is -- he plays string bass, cello, violin and piano proficiently, and experiments with other instruments -- but is also intelligent, educated, caring and well-spoken, it becomes an even harder story to get through. I know it shouldn't be that way -- we should feel the same compassion for anyone in a horrible situation not of his own making, no matter what his or her talents are -- but it's nevertheless true. And Lopez is refreshingly honest about such inherent problems in telling Ayers's story: Ayers shouldn't get treatment different from Los Angeles's other homeless people, but he does because of his talents and because Lopez is writing about him; Lopez is using Ayers to fill his column quota and advance his career, but also genuinely cares about the man; Lopez wants to get Ayers off the streets and living a more normal life, but Lopez realizes that such efforts are partly to satisfy his own ego; Lopez wants to be a good friend to Ayers and have him in his life, but he's sacrificing time with his own family, who should be his first responsibility, to devote so much time to Ayers. I resisted reading "The Soloist" for a while because, having read Lopez's original columns, I felt I knew the story. It turns out, though, that the book is compelling reading even for religious Los Angeles Times followers -- and easily recommended to anyone who doesn't read Lopez's column. Ayers's story is a tough one to tell, and Lopez does a good job telling it without romanticizing it or making it overly maudlin.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mitch Albom

    I work with the homeless in Detroit, so Steve Lopez's account of a stunningly gifted violinist living in the street didn't shock me. But it brought to light how much talent is out there unnourished, needing only a chance to grow. The fact that Lopez and Nathaniel Ayers had their differences kept it real, and you wonder how many others like Ayers are homeless right now.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    Geez, where to start? Whenever I've passed by a homeless person, I've always thought "how did you end up here?" This was a beautifully sad story of one such person. So talented but mentally ill. A vicious cycle of they should be on meds but the meds don't make them feel right so they don't take them, etc. I am holding out hope for Nathaniel.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Josh

    This book is not a novel, though that is unclear from the cover of my edition. It is a true story based on investigative journalism, which eventually tells more about the author than the subject. So I tried not to judge it by the standards of a novel. The trouble is that Lopez is a journalist, and has been for decades. So he writes like one. The tropes of newsmen get old fast, which is Ok in newspapers b/c you're probably only reading one article anyway. But it gets pretty tiresome in a long book This book is not a novel, though that is unclear from the cover of my edition. It is a true story based on investigative journalism, which eventually tells more about the author than the subject. So I tried not to judge it by the standards of a novel. The trouble is that Lopez is a journalist, and has been for decades. So he writes like one. The tropes of newsmen get old fast, which is Ok in newspapers b/c you're probably only reading one article anyway. But it gets pretty tiresome in a long book when Lopez insists on giving the setting in present tense at nearly every new section of every chapter: "I'm on foot in downtown L.A., hustling back to the office . . . ", "We meet at Canter's Deli . . . ", "The Village is a three-story redbrick building". Or he'll end a chapter or section related to one line of thinking and then start the next with something he mentioned a while back, and then cleverly remind you what he's talking about and how it ties into the main story about Nathaniel. But he does it repeatedly, like a three-trick pony: "Whose names are those?" "My classmates at Juilliard". END CHAPTER. NEXT CHAPTER "I half run back to the L.A. Times Building, a downtown landmark . . . " and he goes on to talk about the building and his job there. You can just see that he wants this to be a movie, and the director will cut the scene at the chapter break, and move quickly from Nathaniel's character thread to a shot of Lopez hurrying toward his office. This is all very entertaining (if not indicative of good writing) in an actual movie, but not in a book, done repeatedly. The first third of this book is basically Lopez saying over and over, "isn't it weird, this guy is homeless and crazy but he went to Juilliard"! Well, no, it's not that weird. You never know who you're going to find where. And musical people are often a bit nuts. And we've seen tons of examples in recent TV, of characters who are overeducated bums. This is an old concept; cool to find it in real life, but an old concept. So the author spent way too much time talking about it. Another old concept that the author spends too much time thinking about is what it means to be crazy, and whether it makes you less human and so to be treated differently. Old, old, old. It is scary, though, when you get a chance to see how a schizophrenic thinks, and see how similar it is to yourself. But not new or interesting. The second third of the book is about Lopez. This was good, actually, and turned a two-star book into three-star. I felt like he was hiding the fact that the story was really about him, and I was getting pissed about it. But then I came around and saw he was being pretty explicit. This book is about how a busy, job-endangered reporter takes the time to get to know a crazy bum named Nathaniel, and writes widely-read stories about helping him and all the crazy homeless. Now a major motion picture! That's a story I understand. Of course, it diminishes the more interesting story about Nathaniel's world, which would have made a good long article or short story in Harper's. But it enhances our understanding of what we think is a correct and reasonable way to live. And we compare our views with Lopez's and Nathaniel's. And we see how Lopez seems to realize by the end that he was pushing his view on someone who might or might not accept it. Lopez does play it hands-off, so that was really good. But he still has an agenda and pushes toward it: Nathaniel should spend the night inside, should be safer, should not cling to a shopping cart, should train his musical gifts, and should make more sense. Without acknowledging that a person might want to sleep outside, take risks, just have fun practicing his gifts, and not rely on reason or connect to reality. Again, old, old, old ideas. But at least he forces them by making himself the main character. And of course we have to think about whether he's exploiting Nathaniel (of course he is partly, of course that's not always a bad thing). We hear about his company's troubles as a way of reminding us that Lopez is still protecting his job and looking for a story, and Nathaniel is the best story he'll ever find. And the thousands of other bums he walked by before he met Nathaniel were not, and that's Ok. Oh, and did you know that crazy people are people too? Lopez seems far too surprised by this, despite being a reporter in a culture saturated with references to mental illness. Of course you can actually be friends with a schizophrenic! But Nathaniel as a character was pretty good, and made for great interactions among people, as you try to decode him. But since this wasn't fiction, I was constantly reminded that there was a reason for his being in the book, and drawn away from enjoying his personality. This book blew its potential to be funny, and that made me mad once I noticed it. My first smile was p. 110, and few after that. Wasn't it heroic how the main character got the mayor to come and support fixing Skid Row? He's so hot. Too bad he never mentions that most of the people there are not schizophrenic, and we're left with the idea that maybe all "those" people, who we know nothing about, are supremely helplessness through no choice of their own. Which is true of many people down and out. But many, many of them made some choices leading them down a bad road, and almost none of them would be as resistant to outside help as Nathaniel. But b/c we have his story told and no one else's, we have only the one perspective on the general issue of homelessness. Hopefully the story will encourage people to think, though, when this issue comes up, "maybe the people I'm talking about have backgrounds like Nathaniel's", instead of just dismissing the hard up. That would be positive. There is a lot people could do to help, and this book will get that into people's minds. Probably won't make a difference to the problem, but I respect the book anyway for doing what it does. I don't enjoy it, but I respect it, especially when the agenda isn't crammed down your throat. Still, I didn't learn a thing from this book about the issues, b/c the information is already out there many places, more condensed as essays. A specific trouble I had was that Alison worries that her bipolar brother will end up like Nathaniel, and Lopez never corrects her. He really should say something about the differences b/w mental illnesses and the rarity of overlap b/w bipolar and schizophrenia. And the treatability of both. A last note, this one positive. I mentioned before how Lopez decides on the hands-off approach to helping people who don't want help, and might not understand how much it will help them. I liked that he went for this, and seemed to have his book say that it is hard and perhaps not always right, but usually right, and right in Nathaniel's case. It's just one more plug for allowing for the natural development of people's personality and freedom.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Pop

    As another reviewer has pointed out, the story and movie has had plenty of publicity and I see no reason to tell it over again in my review. Debated on 3 or 4 stars. Gave up and settled on 4. The book was a struggle to listen to. An eye opener to the struggle of the homeless, especially how really bad the homeless plight was (and still is apparently) in Los Angeles. Steve Lopez calls Los Angeles the homeless capital of the USA in the book. Recently the current governor of California Gavin Newsom As another reviewer has pointed out, the story and movie has had plenty of publicity and I see no reason to tell it over again in my review. Debated on 3 or 4 stars. Gave up and settled on 4. The book was a struggle to listen to. An eye opener to the struggle of the homeless, especially how really bad the homeless plight was (and still is apparently) in Los Angeles. Steve Lopez calls Los Angeles the homeless capital of the USA in the book. Recently the current governor of California Gavin Newsom said President Trump was the cause of the homeless problem. Sorry Governor, I don’t think so. Steve Lopez verbal portrait of Nathaniel Ayers was brilliant, and so was Nathaniel Ayers. I wonder what ever became of Mr. Ayers, my reason for my debate. However I don’t think I really want to know. I just want to think he is better and happy. I applaud Mr. Lopez for what he did for Mr. Ayers, too bad we (me included) turn our eyes away when when we see the homeless in our own communities. I’ll skip the movie.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Liz Dunham

    I was originally skeptical of this book presenting too polished a case of "saving" a homeless man. Similar to "Have You Found Her," Mr. Lopez undergoes a personal development in essentially entering the social work field. He is naive, shocked, etc. Then he is intrigued, obsessed, dedicated. But he, too, crosses into a phase of boundary issues. He makes himself and his resources available to Nathaniel without a sense of boundaries or limits. He also begins his dedication before understanding the I was originally skeptical of this book presenting too polished a case of "saving" a homeless man. Similar to "Have You Found Her," Mr. Lopez undergoes a personal development in essentially entering the social work field. He is naive, shocked, etc. Then he is intrigued, obsessed, dedicated. But he, too, crosses into a phase of boundary issues. He makes himself and his resources available to Nathaniel without a sense of boundaries or limits. He also begins his dedication before understanding the illness that has perpetuated Nathaniel's homelessness. To his credit, Mr. Lopez does a phenomenal amount of research, field work, and background work (perks of having a journalist take this awkward role) and he learns quite a bit about the illness, the politics, the resources, and even about boundaries. This book does a good job of introducing this experience and familiarizing the public with a mental illness and social condition that are all-too missunderstood by the general public. It really delves into the complexities of offering help to Nathaniel while maintaining his dignity, working with the rhythms of his illness, and the social services capacities. However, again, like in Have You Found Her, as a non-professional he struggles with boundaries. Interestingly, both Steve Lopez and Janice in the other book reach a point (to their own horror) where they are so exhausted and frustrated that they just wish someone would take the "problem" off their hands. Although both have caring relationships, they realize that a sense of relief would come from their no longer being able to help. (with Janice, when Samantha is in rehab, Janice rejoices to have time again, she is not allowed to go see Samantha, and yet she feels that someone is taking care of it). I think it is a sensation that family members may experience when dealing with the severely and persistently mentally ill, particularly with substance abuse and homelessness mixed in. Families are not allotted the boundaries that protect professionals from being too invested or attached because families are expected to be the resource that is always there. And yet, families of people like Samantha and Nathaniel endured years and years of turmoil before their loved ones ran off, essentially releasing them from responsibility (by not being able to find them). To see how Steve and Janice felt the intensity of these feelings with people they had only known a year, and had no true ties to provides a sliver of insight into how painful it can be for families. All of this being said, I recommend the book for anyone familiar or not with homelessness or mental illness. As a professional it was interesting and I think it must be interesting to any citizen who has walked by a homeless person on the street and wondered about what was going on there.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Christina

    Steve Lopez does a wonderful job in capturing and sharing the story of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers; homeless man, who, in his prime, was a musical protege in Julliard. Steve Lopez puts a face to the disease paranoid schizophrenia and mental illness as a whole. Lopez reaches into a downtrodden and forgotten community of people to help a man who was left to fend for himself out in the streets without support, family, and treatment for close to 30 years. Lopez writes this biography in a journalistic na Steve Lopez does a wonderful job in capturing and sharing the story of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers; homeless man, who, in his prime, was a musical protege in Julliard. Steve Lopez puts a face to the disease paranoid schizophrenia and mental illness as a whole. Lopez reaches into a downtrodden and forgotten community of people to help a man who was left to fend for himself out in the streets without support, family, and treatment for close to 30 years. Lopez writes this biography in a journalistic nature, drawing in readers with his wittiness, clever word choices, and infusing his own personality, fears, and joys into this great work. A column writer by day, Lopez meets Ayers while out and about. Thinking that this man might be his next big ticket story, Lopez seeks Ayers out to hear how a man of his musical caliber is out there living on the streets. Lopez in turns finds out more about himself than about Ayers, and the mental illness that has wrapped up Ayers for over 30 years. Lopez tries to help Ayers in recovery, but soon finds out that recovery is not linear, and it could mean 1 step forward, and simultaneously take 2 steps backwards. The road to recovery is slow, cannot be forced, and a great deal of patience is required to help Nathaniel start the process of improving. Nathaniel Ayers is a Cleveland, Ohio native, who has transplanted himself to Las Angeles. He started his career as a musical genius while in high school, and became a protege` that followed in the footsteps of men who helped him path the way into Julliard. While at Julliard, Ayers fell prey to the insurmountable pressure of being great, and had a mental breakdown. This mental breakdown started his fall from grace, and landed him on the streets as a homeless man with paranoid schizophrenia. While on the streets of LA, he comes in contact with columnist, Steve Lopez, and thus a friendship begins. Throughout this book, I was fully engaged and educated about this mental illness. Even though this book was not about paranoid schizophrenia, Lopez did a wonderful job in painting the picture of a person who goes through life, on a daily basis, battling this sickness. I went through similar emotions as Lopez, hoping that Nathaniel would get better with time, frustrated with his bad days, and happy on his moments of breakthroughs. I definitely learned a lot about this disease, and also about Nathaniel and how a person could get to where he is. I would recommend this book to everyone, especially those who like books that are turned into movies. The book makes me want to see this film again, and the film does an excellent job in telling this story. I would rate this book a 5; it's definitely in my top 15.

  9. 5 out of 5

    L.A.Weekly

    Review by Alan Rich Back in September 1964, Jascha Heifetz, the formidable fiddler, was attempting an ill-advised comeback recital at Carnegie Hall. The crowd out front was enormous, and it naturally included many people with long faces hoping for a turned-back ticket to this sold-out event. I was covering it as a music critic for the New York Herald Tribune of lamented memory. At that time, there was a violinist, 20 or so, nice Jewish boy, reasonably talented, who played in a regular spot in fro Review by Alan Rich Back in September 1964, Jascha Heifetz, the formidable fiddler, was attempting an ill-advised comeback recital at Carnegie Hall. The crowd out front was enormous, and it naturally included many people with long faces hoping for a turned-back ticket to this sold-out event. I was covering it as a music critic for the New York Herald Tribune of lamented memory. At that time, there was a violinist, 20 or so, nice Jewish boy, reasonably talented, who played in a regular spot in front of Carnegie on most concert nights, with his violin case open to receive coins. I had the idea that this guy would make a pretty good story for my paper, and what better time than after I had taken him to this night of nights? I proffered him my extra ticket; he looked at me the way Little Orphan Annie must have first looked at Daddy Warbucks. Come concert time, the seat next to me was fully occupied, not by my grateful minstrel but by a corpulent heavy-breather who had bought my extra ticket, at a fairly inflated price, from the street fiddler. When I came out at intermission, that guy was still sawing away at his sidewalk station. I’ve never trusted one of those street players since. Until, that is, Mr. Nathaniel Ayers began to restore my faith, with help from Steve Lopez. The slice-of-life columnist for the Los Angeles Times comes into the picture where I might have, if that klutz in New York hadn’t sold my ticket. Lopez’s splendid new book, fashioned from his columns, is called The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music. Lopez discovers Ayers first, a lone fiddler playing astonishingly well, on a downtown street corner. They meet, some bullshit is exchanged for better or worse, they part, they meet again. “...[Nathaniel] plays for a while, we talk for a while, an experience that’s like dropping in on a dream,” writes Lopez. Read the rest of the review at: http://www.laweekly.com/art+books/boo...

  10. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Grogan

    This is one of my favorite music-centered books I've read in my life. Lopez perfectly blends the dizzying world of schizophrenia with the counter-dizzying world of music in a story that will charm musicians and laymen everywhere. Being a real person, Nathaniel was not just dialogue and description on the page, but he walked and spoke and pushed his cart through the room as I read. Lopez's wording was straightforward, journalistic, and simultaneously deeply personal. Although I have never seen an This is one of my favorite music-centered books I've read in my life. Lopez perfectly blends the dizzying world of schizophrenia with the counter-dizzying world of music in a story that will charm musicians and laymen everywhere. Being a real person, Nathaniel was not just dialogue and description on the page, but he walked and spoke and pushed his cart through the room as I read. Lopez's wording was straightforward, journalistic, and simultaneously deeply personal. Although I have never seen and certainly never experienced Nathaniel, I feel as if he is a brother, a sick, tormented brother that I have sworn to protect. This is the first straight nonfiction book I've read that tells a personal story, and I was pleasantly surprised by its elegant delivery. I believe anyone, whether in orchestra or the marching band, who can understand the redemptive power of music would greatly benefit from reading Nathaniel's story. And for those who have no clue about music, as the narrator started out, it teaches the power and an appreciation beyond the simple enjoyment of a tune. I also believe the awareness it brings to those who suffer from mental illness and/or homelessness is an act that should not be understated. Before reading the Soloist, I believed a majority if not the entirety of the mentally ill were easily curable by simple medication. Clearly this is not the case, and I am more open minded now because of this terrific story.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Brenda Bissett-steinhofer

    Thank you Steve Lopez for reserving us a front row seat at this symphony in the big city in "The Soloist." The story was both eye-opening and heartbreaking, a score of stunning human crescendo and stark morendo, blowing the doors wide open on the stigmas and misconceptions associated with mental illness and homelessness. We are glad that Nathaniel Ayers has emerged from the shadows and that his story has been told. Anyone who has ever passed a person sleeping in a doorway or with their belonging Thank you Steve Lopez for reserving us a front row seat at this symphony in the big city in "The Soloist." The story was both eye-opening and heartbreaking, a score of stunning human crescendo and stark morendo, blowing the doors wide open on the stigmas and misconceptions associated with mental illness and homelessness. We are glad that Nathaniel Ayers has emerged from the shadows and that his story has been told. Anyone who has ever passed a person sleeping in a doorway or with their belongings heaped in a shopping cart,or observed a family huddled in a makeshift dwelling under a bridge,or visited a shelter where strangers simply exist side by side,unable to rest, keeping close watch around them,will emerge with a much different view of mental illness and homelessness. The saving grace in this book is not that Nathaniel Ayers was "cured," but that he found a community of musicians, friends, and fans who understand him, respect him, care for him and love him regardless of the ongoing challenges.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Sydney

    This is soooooo good. Its so heartwarming, I guess you can say. Haha. Its a book for everyoneeee

  13. 4 out of 5

    Nicole R

    I just finished this book and am having a hard time coming up with words to describe how I feel about it. Steve Lopez is a columnist for the LA Times who stumbles across a homeless man in a tunnel who is playing a two stringed violin. Mr. Lopez begins talking to the man, who obviously has a mental illness, and learns that he previously attended Juliard on a scholarship for the bass. Mr. Lopez leaves the meeting thinking that if this mans story checks out it would be an interesting column....and I just finished this book and am having a hard time coming up with words to describe how I feel about it. Steve Lopez is a columnist for the LA Times who stumbles across a homeless man in a tunnel who is playing a two stringed violin. Mr. Lopez begins talking to the man, who obviously has a mental illness, and learns that he previously attended Juliard on a scholarship for the bass. Mr. Lopez leaves the meeting thinking that if this mans story checks out it would be an interesting column....and ends up embarking on a journey to help Nathaniel Anthony Ayers - ex-Juliard student, lover of music, and victim of schizophrenia, get off the streets and on the path to "recovery". Along the way, Mr. Lopez gains as much, if not more, from the friendship than Mr. Ayers This book documents the first two years of the friendship between Mr. Lopez and Mr. Ayers; the struggle Mr. Lopez has to grasp the extent of Mr. Ayers disease, the constant ups-and-downs of Mr. Ayers mental health, and the love and exceptional talent Mr. Ayers demonstrates for music which is the bright beacon that cuts through the fog of schizophrenia. There is no doubt that Mr. Lopez has helped Mr. Ayers in many ways simply by providing support and friendship but Mr. Ayers relates life lessons that brought a tear to my eye. This book was phenomenal and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for something to read this month. I also recommend checking out the origninal columns which can be found online. I am now looking forward to the movie but know that it will pale in comparison to the book. I often become immersed in my reading but it has been a long time since I have been so moved by a story of compassion, friendship, and humanity.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Fili

    I was attracted to this book when I realized it was about a subject close to my heart (schizophrenia), music and that it was the true story of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers. To top it off, the book is also a major motion picture starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr. to be released in April. I had to read it. I finished the book today having started it just two days ago. I could've read it quicker had I no distractions. The author, L.A. Times Columnist Steve Lopez, is not the next great American no I was attracted to this book when I realized it was about a subject close to my heart (schizophrenia), music and that it was the true story of Nathaniel Anthony Ayers. To top it off, the book is also a major motion picture starring Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey, Jr. to be released in April. I had to read it. I finished the book today having started it just two days ago. I could've read it quicker had I no distractions. The author, L.A. Times Columnist Steve Lopez, is not the next great American novelist, but his prose is clear, concise and honest. While there were parts of the story that I felt were misplaced, twice near the end, I fought back tears while reading. Not only is this a good story, but for anyone who has a loved one with schizophrenia in their life, it may be eye-opening and help understand the condition, what to expect, which approaches work and which do not, and perhaps get some help. Immediately after finishing the novel, I Googled Nathaniel Ayers and got a peek at the man himself in a video clip posted on the L.A. Times website. I can hardly wait to see the film.

  15. 5 out of 5

    K

    This story could be straight out of fiction -- a seasoned journalist discovers a talented, homeless, mentally ill musician, befriends him, struggles to improve his quality of life, and finds him outlets for his talent. It's no Disney movie, though, and I give Lopez credit for acknowledging the three-dimensional aspects of this story. If the schizophrenic musician resists others' attempts to offer him housing, to what extent should his wishes be respected? Is it possible to eliminate the ego appe This story could be straight out of fiction -- a seasoned journalist discovers a talented, homeless, mentally ill musician, befriends him, struggles to improve his quality of life, and finds him outlets for his talent. It's no Disney movie, though, and I give Lopez credit for acknowledging the three-dimensional aspects of this story. If the schizophrenic musician resists others' attempts to offer him housing, to what extent should his wishes be respected? Is it possible to eliminate the ego appeal of investing in such a friendship, especially when writing about it as a journalist? And if not, is it really exploitation? For telling an interesting story and being so honest about the issues, Lopez deserves four stars. I wish I could give him five, really; unfortunately there was something about the writing that failed to engage me. Still, the book was provocative and inspiring overall.

  16. 5 out of 5

    TL

    Story and writing: four stars Narrator for audiobook; four stars Short review since I gotta work: I'm not sure when I first heard about this but the movie trailer inspired me to go pick up the book... I was intrigued by Nathaniel's story and what happened to him. Second time around: Still captivated :) Mr. Lopez does a wonderful job and justice to his friend's story. Nathaniel steals your heart and you root for him to get better. His achievements, history, and low moments make you smile/cringe but y Story and writing: four stars Narrator for audiobook; four stars Short review since I gotta work: I'm not sure when I first heard about this but the movie trailer inspired me to go pick up the book... I was intrigued by Nathaniel's story and what happened to him. Second time around: Still captivated :) Mr. Lopez does a wonderful job and justice to his friend's story. Nathaniel steals your heart and you root for him to get better. His achievements, history, and low moments make you smile/cringe but you can tell he's doing the best he can. He's an interesting individual...my heart broke for him, hearing how he was getting sick and how rough he had it before coming to LA. The one fight he had with Steve still saddened me and made me mentally take a few steps back at one part.. Nathaniel is one person I would have loved to meet, specially to hear him play music:) Would recommend <3

  17. 5 out of 5

    Trixie St. Claire

    I read this on flights between Raleigh, NC - Atlanta, GA and Tampa, FL. It was a very quick read, but moving and honest. Usually stories like this get sugar-coated and the "helper" becomes the hero. I am glad this book didn't turn into a fairy tale ending where everything is wrapped up neat in a bow. I was glad the book focused that mental illness recovery is not linear- that you can go two steps forward and ten steps back. I hope the upcoming movie of this book doesn't ruin the lovely story.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jane

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is about a meeting between a journalist and a homeless man. Nathaniel Ayers was a talented musician who was accepted to Juilliard but tragedy strikes in his second year. He goes home where he battles mental illness for years and ending up on the streets. Enter Steve Lopez, who encounters Nathaniel and decides to write an article. What I loved about this book is it shows the problem of homelessness and mental illness. It also does not pretend that mental illness has an easy answer or th This book is about a meeting between a journalist and a homeless man. Nathaniel Ayers was a talented musician who was accepted to Juilliard but tragedy strikes in his second year. He goes home where he battles mental illness for years and ending up on the streets. Enter Steve Lopez, who encounters Nathaniel and decides to write an article. What I loved about this book is it shows the problem of homelessness and mental illness. It also does not pretend that mental illness has an easy answer or the same answer for everyone. The struggles that people deal with when they gave a mental illness are huge and they need help but also patience and compassion. Another part I loved is that it shows that being someone's friend can turn their life around. It makes a difference just being there for someone. It is troubling to read about Nathaniel's bad times and moments of rage. Especially the racist attitudes that he shows. According to Mr. Lopez, people with schizophrenia are sometimes prone to this outburst. The other homeless people and the demon of drug abuse among the homeless are spoken of as well. The drug problem is a battle this world continues to face. The ending shows that Nathaniel has started changing his life.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Patricia

    I suffer from mental illness and l like to read about how others fare, even if it’s difficult. I’ve read a few books about mentally ill street dwellers and this is one that shows how an astonishingly talented person with profound difficulties can progress in a positive way. I do believe the author may have been really blessed by his often frustrating relationship with his friend.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Leah

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The Soloist: Steve Lopez (Spoilers) Although there are many criteria which can define a “good book,” The Soloist, by Steve Lopez, seems to encompass many qualities that prove admirable writing that tells a compelling story. Steve Lopez’s writing structure, the lessons, and the relatability of the story all work together, earning this book the positive response that it has deserved from its audience. The structure of writing used throughout The Soloist allows for an easy-to-follow read, along wi The Soloist: Steve Lopez (Spoilers) Although there are many criteria which can define a “good book,” The Soloist, by Steve Lopez, seems to encompass many qualities that prove admirable writing that tells a compelling story. Steve Lopez’s writing structure, the lessons, and the relatability of the story all work together, earning this book the positive response that it has deserved from its audience. The structure of writing used throughout The Soloist allows for an easy-to-follow read, along with giving readers insight into multiple characters, even though only one person is telling the story. The book progresses in a logical order, telling a complete story with clear explanations of events as well as the expression of feelings. After a long day, Lopez writes, “I drive home, wrung out after another deadline-crashing day, mouth dry, traffic miserable. And he’s in the tunnel, blissfully fiddling his way through the Elgar Cello Concerto” (Lopez 137). Through Lopez’s words, readers are able to understand the actions of multiple characters and the sense of annoyance the speaker is feeling. Another aspect of the The Soloist that makes it worth reading are the lessons taught throughout the story. The audience is able to learn through the mistakes and realizations shared in the lives of many characters. A worker in the Mental Health System, Stella March, expresses to Lopez, “It’s a subtle but significant difference, recognizing the person before the condition” (81). This phrase speaks to Lopez and ultimately changes the way he views Nathaniel, which is very important for the conclusion of the story. Writing in a way that allows your audience to personally connect to emotions and certain events is a feature that is important in a “good read.” Lopez does a tremendous job making sure that he is telling a story that relates to the lives of many people. For example, Lopez explains an internal issue he is struggling with and says, “I’m at the point where the things on your to-do list get transferred to a should-have-done list, and one reason I write a column is for the privilege of vicariously sampling other worlds, dropping in with my passport, my notebook and my curiosity” (Lopez, 33). Many people can connect to Lopez’s statement, whether they are aware of it before they read it or not. By understanding the hardships Lopez is facing and the reasons behind his actions, there are relations between audience and the speaker on a much more personal level. While some say that The Soloist is not worth reading due to the amount of focus on the author himself rather than the “subject,” Nathaniel, it is important to remember that Steve Lopez is a main character in the book as well, also experiencing growth. Lopez becomes much more understanding, patient, and caring. He also begins to look at life in a new, positive way due to Nathaniel’s influence. The emphasis on both characters, not only Nathaniel, is very important, allowing readers to see the deeper relationship and internal growths in both of them. The structure of the book, the relatability or connections, and the lessons in The Soloist, make it very worth reading. Lopez is able to capture readers in a unique way, creating interest in another’s life by turning a short column into a book. The Soloist, by Steve Lopez, is a very well written book that is enjoyable and can benefit a wide range of audience.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mazola1

    The Soloist reads like a book written by a columnist, which is to say it's clear, it's compelling and it's easy to read. The subject matter is not so easy. Many reviewers have said that this book puts a face on mental illness and the homeless and that's true. The mentally ill central character of the book is not just an illness, he's a real person, with a family, a history, hopes, dreams and problems. That being said, the book also shows how difficult it is to treat mental illness, and how much The Soloist reads like a book written by a columnist, which is to say it's clear, it's compelling and it's easy to read. The subject matter is not so easy. Many reviewers have said that this book puts a face on mental illness and the homeless and that's true. The mentally ill central character of the book is not just an illness, he's a real person, with a family, a history, hopes, dreams and problems. That being said, the book also shows how difficult it is to treat mental illness, and how much time and resources are needed to achieve even small gains. While the book might also be read as an indictment of the less than stellar job our society has done in treating the mentally ill, it's also true that the book suggests that this problem may not have any good solutions. In this sense, the book The Soloist is just as schizophrenic as the character, the Skid Row soloist Row Nathaniel Ayers. Parts of the book are uplifting, but parts are just downright depressing. While Ayers' life does improve (in the teeth of his own stubborn opposition, and with the dedicated help of dozens of people) it's clear that he, and thousands like him, are damaged goods, and that it is beyond our current ability to really "save" them. I suppose this touches on the debate about the civil rights of the mentally ill. There was a time when mentally ill persons were forcibly hospitalized, forcibly medicated with drugs that dulled them and even forcibly subjected to brain mutilating surgeries and electroshock treatments. Today's medications and treatments, including the new and improved electroshock, are supposed to be better, so is it now ethical to force these on the mentally ill? All of which could be summed up by asking if there is a "right" to live on the street and refuse treatment? At times, Ayers demanded that right in no uncertain terms, but he was mentally ill, right? Should he have been forced to get into treatment and take medications? Lopez figured out that this path doesn't really work, that the person has to make that choice for themself. As The Soloist shows, getting that to happen takes an immense investment of time, patience and resources, and there is no guarantee of success. So the grim reality is that most of the mentally ill will probably remain on the streets, largely ignored by the swirling society around them. Few will be lucky enough to receive the attention and extraordinary care that Ayers received. The truth is that most of us think that the mentally ill are just different than we are, and we can't be bothered to try to help them. For some, The Soloist will no doubt be taken as proof that bothering to help can be uplifting. For others, it will be a reminder of just how daunting that task can be.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joanne

    In case you haven't seen the movie trailer: Lopez is a journalist for the LA Times whose soul is touched by the violin music of a man who's homeless. Then he discovers that the man, Nathaniel, attended Julliard, and his interest is piqued. Apparently he ran a series of columns in the Times about Nathaniel, and this book is an expansion of them, as well as the story about his telling Nathaniel's story. Nathaniel's story is a fascinating one, and it takes us through genius. mental illness, race re In case you haven't seen the movie trailer: Lopez is a journalist for the LA Times whose soul is touched by the violin music of a man who's homeless. Then he discovers that the man, Nathaniel, attended Julliard, and his interest is piqued. Apparently he ran a series of columns in the Times about Nathaniel, and this book is an expansion of them, as well as the story about his telling Nathaniel's story. Nathaniel's story is a fascinating one, and it takes us through genius. mental illness, race relations, and the modern social work and health care system. Lopez does a great job of portraying Nathaniel's ups and downs and his own desire to help. Throughout he grapples with the question of what IS the best way to help Nathaniel? I sympathized with Lopez's desire for an easy fix and admired his dedication when he realized the quick fix wouldn't work. Like A Beautiful Mind, this book broke my heart. I'm sympathetic towards those with mental illness and admire those who interact with the mentally ill on a regular basis. I haven't done it very well at all. Haven't seen the movie.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emi Bevacqua

    I love reading books by newspaper columnists (Marley and Me, Dan Savage's The Kid, and anything by Dave Barry), and Steve Lopez was one of my favorites. I'd seen the trailer to the upcoming movie before I started reading this, and that's unfortunate because I kept seeing Jamie Fox and Robert Downey Jr... whereas I'd never have cast them myself in my head for these roles. The story is poignant, I was rooting for both men as they progressed and evolved, and I was touched and humbled by the story. I love reading books by newspaper columnists (Marley and Me, Dan Savage's The Kid, and anything by Dave Barry), and Steve Lopez was one of my favorites. I'd seen the trailer to the upcoming movie before I started reading this, and that's unfortunate because I kept seeing Jamie Fox and Robert Downey Jr... whereas I'd never have cast them myself in my head for these roles. The story is poignant, I was rooting for both men as they progressed and evolved, and I was touched and humbled by the story. I'll have to look up Lopez's columns in the LA Times to see what's happened to Nathaniel Ayers. I won't be seeing the movie.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sher

    Interesting story told in a news reporter style. A story about a friendship between a newsman and a mentally ill gifted musician who lives on the streets near Skid Row in Los Angeles. Nathaniel Ayers was attending Julliard when his life was turned upside down by the onslaught of schizophrenia. He is forced to leave Julliard and ends up a home less bum. Steve Lopez discovers Nathanial and tries to help him. The relationship helps both of them, but is fraught with tensions and conflicts along the Interesting story told in a news reporter style. A story about a friendship between a newsman and a mentally ill gifted musician who lives on the streets near Skid Row in Los Angeles. Nathaniel Ayers was attending Julliard when his life was turned upside down by the onslaught of schizophrenia. He is forced to leave Julliard and ends up a home less bum. Steve Lopez discovers Nathanial and tries to help him. The relationship helps both of them, but is fraught with tensions and conflicts along the way.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Christine

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. For some reason, I'm not in love with this book. In many ways, the book is more about Lopez than about Ayers (and Lopez is a good guy), and this is a problem because Ayers stays two-dimensional. I think I would have enjoy the articles, for in some ways this is simply "I discovered what mental illness is" type of book. It also feels dated in a way, as if it would have had more impact a decade ago. Lopez, however, can write. The book is compelling enough to want to finish.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Weathervane

    Very good; relatively quick and easy read. Prose was clear. Interesting.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Ben Mackillop

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Although Steve Lopez’s book The Soloist achieves its central goal of informing readers of the life and story of Nathaniel Ayers, a genius musician troubled with schizophrenia. In it’s journalistic manner, the story as a whole falls short of its endless possibilities in bringing about hope and change for people brought to the streets (especially those of Skid Row Los Angeles) as a result of their mental illnesses.There are many factors that greatly contribute to a successful nonfiction story. Th Although Steve Lopez’s book The Soloist achieves its central goal of informing readers of the life and story of Nathaniel Ayers, a genius musician troubled with schizophrenia. In it’s journalistic manner, the story as a whole falls short of its endless possibilities in bringing about hope and change for people brought to the streets (especially those of Skid Row Los Angeles) as a result of their mental illnesses.There are many factors that greatly contribute to a successful nonfiction story. The most important factors to me in deciding the quality of a true story are the ethics of the author or narrator -- which in many ways also shows the accuracy of the story -- the entertainment value in the ability to get a reader hooked and continue reading, and the overall take-away, whatever that may be for a given book. In addition to these, the rhetoric and style of an author play into every aspect of a story with exciting, attention-grabbing language, and storytelling often contributes to all three factors above. Throughout The Soloist, Steve Lopez makes great use of his career as a journalist to solidify his character and ethics throughout the story, after all the story itself is a result of a series of articles he wrote on Nathaniel Ayers. This does give a perfect ethical appeal to the reader, however, repeatedly throughout the story Lopez falls short of maintaining his journalistic ethics, at least in how he tries to persuade Nathaniel to do as he wishes. We see over and over throughout the story how Lopez is struggling with the conflict of his continuing to help Nathaniel or to lose the series of stories that has brought him success. This is obvious throughout the middle to later sections of the book where Lopez seriously contemplates the idea of forcing Nathaniel into treatment. Even though Lopez might not be a perfectly moral person, this doesn’t stop the possibility of The Soloist going from a good book to a great book. However, it does diminish his reliability as a journalist when we as the reader can greatly question his motives throughout. Another important aspect to any great book is the ability for the author to catch and keep the reader's attention through entertaining dialogue, cliffhangers, and other rhetorical strategies. Due to the nature of The Soloist being based around Lopez’s series of articles, a decent amount of the book is somewhat plain in its depreciation as Lopez is sure to tell the story exactly how it was. While this adds greatly to the accuracy and truthfulness of the book, it does very little to keep the reader entertained throughout as a large amount of the story is mere documentation of Nathaniel and his antics. In addition to this, the fact that Lopez’s articles are freely available to read offers any reader a shorter and just as fulfilling option to learning of Nathaniel’s story without dedicating countless hours to read the full book. Overall the story does very little to entice the reader to continue reading and make it worth their time. The last and possibly most import aspect to a successful story is how the author gets across his central message with which he would like to leave the reader. In this aspect Lopez is very clear of his message that Nathaniel Ayers and other mentally ill people by proxy are people before their illnesses and that they can have fulfilling lives like anyone else. Despite making this message very clear throughout the story, Lopez falls short of giving the reader the hope and wanting to change the status quo, which his story is so capable of doing. This failure is largely due to Lopez’s own character flaws and selfishness towards Nathaniel, questioning whether to force Nathaniel into treatment or let him live his life as he chooses. Also the fight that occurs between Lopez and Nathaniel near the end of the story and Lopez’s reaction of giving up hope for Nathaniel extends out to the reader, with us losing hope for Nathaniel and other people in similar situations. This works to undermine the message Lopez has built throughout the story and leaves the reader questioning Lopez’s character, which in turn gives us a very mixed idea of the reasons for his actions, undermining the story as a whole. Although The Soloist fulfills its general purpose of telling the story of Nathaniel Ayers, Steve Lopez falls short in making real change happen as a result of his ability to implant hope into the minds of readers, ultimately coming short of his potential. If Lopez would have taken more time to reflect on how he could have changed the status quo for people like Nathaniel, he could have given readers a more lasting impact with his message and the book could have possibly resulted in real change for the people whom he tries to help.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Sunjay Sood

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Spoilers for The Soloist There is little to say about The Soloist, other than that Steve Lopez has created a wonderful piece of writing. Steve Lopez is able to hook readers in with his captivating and heartfelt story of Nathaniel. The Soloist takes readers through a journey of Lopez’s experiences with the homeless schizophrenic, Nathaniel, and how the two became fast friends. The character development, characterization and structure, are wonderfully written and bring light to The Soloist. The c Spoilers for The Soloist There is little to say about The Soloist, other than that Steve Lopez has created a wonderful piece of writing. Steve Lopez is able to hook readers in with his captivating and heartfelt story of Nathaniel. The Soloist takes readers through a journey of Lopez’s experiences with the homeless schizophrenic, Nathaniel, and how the two became fast friends. The character development, characterization and structure, are wonderfully written and bring light to The Soloist. The characterization in The Soloist is superb in the fact that each character feels real and is important, no matter the role that person plays in the bigger picture. The main focus is on Steve Lopez and Nathaniel, and Lopez makes some beautiful descriptions for each, for example “His playing is a little scratchy and tentative, but just like before, it’s clear this is no beginner” (Lopez 1). Descriptions such as this, make each man seem like they are not just a character in a book, but someone a reader has known for a long time. Lopez uses characterization in a way that allows him to stretch out his character’s description so during the whole story, as these men develop, readers learn something more about them that defines who they are and what makes them unique. I personally think this method works really well as the story is a development of Lopez and his interaction with Nathaniel, and as the two get closer, Lopez learns more about Nathaniel, and in turn so do the readers. The character development is another key part of The Soloist, as this is a retelling of events that happened, Lopez is able to develop the characters in a way that only he can as he can’t sway from the truth of the events that actually happened. While I have no doubt that Lopez tweaked some things to make a certain character better in the book than in real life, I have to say the way the characters develop in the book are natural and hold true to the original characters that readers meet in the first few pages of the story, his ingenious tactic makes this book an enjoyable read. For example, Nathaniel, who was once against sleeping in a building, said: “I do, too, live here, I have a place” (Lopez 185). Lopez’s natural development of his characters make it a lot easier for readers to relate to the conflicts in these pages, even if the readers have not come in contact with schizophrenia. After all, this book is meant to raise awareness of the disease of schizophrenia and the impacts this disease has on good people like Nathaniel. That is why Steve Lopez continued to write articles about Nathaniel as check ups for his readers. hy would this book do anything differently? People were moved by Nathaniel’s story and wanted to hear more, and help. The book helps convey that feeling a lot clearer with the development of characters making them more understandable and realistic. After all, Lopez in the book continues to shift from wanting to help and ditch Nathaniel, and that self battle leading to the final decision to stay by Nathaniel’s side is an aspect of the development of Lopez’s character that brings readers in and makes them want to see the end. The structure of this story is unique with the added flair of a journalist writing a book. Readers get the story just like any other book, but they also gain a lot more insight than similar books. I enjoyed reading the little side adventures of Lopez as he goes out to find more about Nathaniel and his past. Lopez uses small inserts of narrative where we get a dialogue between him and a character from Nathaniel’s past connects to his journalistic approach to his writing which makes this piece unique. There is no real significance as to why those parts were written like that but the interpretation and resemblance to a journalist getting his facts is a nice change of pace that doesn’t take away from the main writing style or story. It also connects the character Steve Lopez to the author Steve Lopez. The structure of the story is quick, but slow enough to enjoy the details. The plot isn’t rushed in any way but the time gaps add to the story and make it more realistic, showing the improvement isn’t overnight and takes time. That time just adds to the special connection Lopez and Nathaniel make throughout the story that no one else is really able to replicate, showing how important the other was. The story was well worth the time reading it, and the relationships between the characters are priceless. Like every story there are some flaws, but The Soloist has a lot more gems throughout the pages. Many aspects of this story were well thought out, and others seem to have just happened, but they make the story all the greater. I would say that this book is a must read, if nothing more than for the amazing development between two people and the importance of each other, and the precision with which Steve Lopez captures that on paper for the whole world to read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Maricarmen Estrada M

    3.5 Stars - There are some great things about this book that kept me interested and connected to the story, which is actually great. Mental illnesses became something I took a lot of interest in quite a few years ago. "The Soloist" deals with schizophrenia through the eyes of Steve Lopez, a journalist who meets Nathaniel, a musician that lives in the streets of the underworld of Los Angeles who ended up there after having been a Juilliard student because of his mental illness. The story of their 3.5 Stars - There are some great things about this book that kept me interested and connected to the story, which is actually great. Mental illnesses became something I took a lot of interest in quite a few years ago. "The Soloist" deals with schizophrenia through the eyes of Steve Lopez, a journalist who meets Nathaniel, a musician that lives in the streets of the underworld of Los Angeles who ended up there after having been a Juilliard student because of his mental illness. The story of their friendship is remarkable and if you have not had the opportunity to experience what is like to deal with someone close with a mental illness, this book will open that door for you. This story did happen and it does feel real all along. The language used for this book was very simple and direct. I read it in Spanish, which took a lot for me from the original, I could just tell... if I can avoid it, I'd rather not read translations. Unfortunately, in this occasion I just had the Spanish version and I decided to give it a go, but it didn't really do for me. That's why I didn't give the book a higher rating.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Hope

    I had seen the movie without reading the book. The movie was very good; the book was excellent! I appreciated the author's writing style, honesty, and vulnerability as he told this true story. I had two key take-aways from reading this book: I have a new appreciation for and interest in classical music, and relationships change our brain chemistry. Steve Lopez's relationship with Nathaniel Ayer was complex and not easy, but it was a special and rich relationship for both of them. It actually cha I had seen the movie without reading the book. The movie was very good; the book was excellent! I appreciated the author's writing style, honesty, and vulnerability as he told this true story. I had two key take-aways from reading this book: I have a new appreciation for and interest in classical music, and relationships change our brain chemistry. Steve Lopez's relationship with Nathaniel Ayer was complex and not easy, but it was a special and rich relationship for both of them. It actually changed the chemistry in Nathaniel's brain that led to him living life in a healthier way. Everyone needs a friend; we need one another.

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