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Book Review:The Soloist by Steve Lopez

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I groaned as I listened to an information session at the California State University Northridge campus, where I am attending this fall. They told me that every year they have a book that everyone on campus reads. They do it so everyone has something in common, so it’s easier to bond with everyone. I thought it was a dumb idea. I have no problem thinking about something to talk about with people. I don’t need a book to help me create conversations. I was annoyed that I’d have to pick up a book this summer instead of watching reruns of Friends.

The book they picked this year was The Soloist by Steve Lopez. I didn’t know anything about the book, except that there was a movie about it that received terrible reviews. I was not looking forward to reading it.

The book is based off of a true story. It’s about the friendship of Steve Lopez and Nathaniel Ayers. Steve Lopez is an L.A. Times columnist, and Nathaniel is a homeless man living under a tunnel in Los Angeles. Nathaniel has a rare musical talent. He got a scholarship to Julliard, but dropped out. Nathaniel suffers from schizophrenia. The book is about Lopez befriending Nathaniel and helping him with his sickness. It raises awareness for schizophrenia.

The most appealing thing in this book was the fact that both characters grew throughout the novel. Nathaniel offers hope for all schizophrenics. Lopez changes as his life is influenced by Nathaniel. He makes me want to go out and help the homeless. Nathaniel is humble and talented and makes for the perfect hero. Lopez turns into an advocate for the homeless and really makes a statement that Skid Row in Los Angeles needs attention.

In high school, the two things that interested me the most was journalism and psychology. I knew when I got to college, I was going to major in journalism and I would take as many psychology courses as possible. Naturally, this book appealed to me.

Despite hating reading, one of my best subjects in high school was English. I was trained to find literary devices, and I automatically annotate any piece of literature in front of me. This book has it all: alliteration, similes, analogies, metaphors, rhetorical questions, imagery… Steve Lopez is an incredible writer. I aspire to one day write like him.

I thought this book was amazing. It really provided great insight on what it’s like to be a paranoid schizophrenic. I am very glad I was forced to read it by Cal State Northridge, because otherwise I would not have picked it up.

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About Maddy

  • Welcome to CSUN, Maddy! I was relieved to discover that you did in fact enjoy the book. By the way: though many faculty are requiring The Soloist as a textbook in their classes, nobody that I know of has been forced to read it. (However, reading your blog makes me think maybe students SHOULD be forced to read it!) (Just kidding….)