The Song is You, Paperback Book
4 out of 5 (1 rating)


Julian Donahue is in love with his iPod. Each song triggers a memory - there's one for the day when he met his wife-to-be, and another for the day his son was born.

But when a tragedy tears his family apart, even music loses its hold on him.

Then, one snowy night in Brooklyn, he stumbles into a bar where a young Irish woman with a shock of dark red hair sings with a voice that demands his attention.

Though they do not meet, a strange and unlikely love affair is ignited, and his life's soundtrack starts to play again.

Cait O'Dwyer's star is on the rise, and from an anonymous distance Julian guides her along the path to fame - and she responds to the one voice who seems to understand her.

As their entanglement deepens, they face the prospect of an inevitable, impossible meeting.

What follows is a love story and a uniquely heart-breaking dark comedy about obsession and loss.


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Music has always been an important part of Julian Donahue's life. Carrying an iPod filled with thousands of songs, each with special significance, Julian is aware of the ways a song can capture a listener and become an important player in relationships and experiences unconnected to music itself. Although the middle-aged advertisement director's life hasn't gone as planned, and he is separated from his wife, songs offer some consolation to Julian, who feels that "music lasted longer than anything it inspired." One night in a Brooklyn bar, he hears the performance of Cait O'Dwyer, a young rock singer on the verge of stardom, and becomes infatuated with both the musician and her songs. Julian reaches out to her anonymously in the form of career advice, and the two continue to communicate with enigmatic messages. Through Julian's own history with music and his unusual relationship with Cait, Phillips explores music's ability reawaken moments and emotions from the past. The characters' longing from a distance adds suspense to the story, but with time, it's clear that Julian desires something greater than Cait herself. Of course, with music playing such an important role in the novel, her songs are an impetus for Julian to sort out his life, and ultimately, the story is a testament to the ways music captures the past and affect the future. (Edited because I started to ramble. I'll sort it out and add more to the review later, so it's more review and less summary.)

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