Moving and Lyrical Love Story Follows a Song That Transcends

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The Music We Make by Michelle Rene DeBellis

What’s it About?

A young man must write the one song that will help him make peace with his mother’s death. This is a beautiful and emotional story of overcoming our pain to achieve our dreams.

One fateful night turns Santiago DeAngelo’s world upside down. A tragic accident takes his mother’s life and sends his own world spiraling. The Music We Make (Paradise Publishing) is a tale of love, music and finding peace after loss. It is inspired by the story of author Michelle Rene DeBellis’ husband and the song that led his own journey through grief.

An Unforeseen Tragedy Sends Life Spiraling

On New Year’s Eve in 2017, everything seems to be looking up for 22-year-old Santiago. Graduation is on the horizon, a job in the family business is lined up for him, and he’s heading to a party hosted by the girl he’s liked for years. But the girl is engaged to another man, and Santiago harbors a secret desire to quit school and pursue his own dreams. So, he calls his mom to pick him up from the party, setting the events of the novel in motion.

Before the clock strikes midnight, Santiago is pulling his mother from the wreckage of their car, which was struck by an oncoming vehicle. After several surgeries and being prescribed medication for his own injuries, Santiago’s family makes the impossible decision to take his mother off of life support. 

“Pain introduces itself” in the wake of her death, and Santiago’s life is never the same. But a silver lining appears in an opiate-clouded vision when Santiago hears four notes ringing out. His mother has sent him a song from beyond the grave, one that will help him to power through his grief and feel more connected to her.

A Complex Love Story with Vivid Characters

As Santiago struggles with his grief and makes it his mission to complete the song, more obstacles tumble into his path. His father’s stubbornness and anger lead him to blame Santiago, and forgiveness feels out of reach.

But through it all, Santiago’s younger sister Lucy shines — a steadfast and devoted soul who wants the best for her family. Michelle Rene DeBellis has crafted a raw and honest story of these family members, who are inspired in part by her own siblings.

In this story filled with love, Santiago has many choices to make for himself. As he balances love for his mother and grief over her death, he faces the impossible task of finishing her song. He clings to the pills he was prescribed, seeking comfort in the numbness that the opiates bring him. 

His dependence becomes an addiction, and he soon sees the way it causes his relationships and his life to fall apart. But he learns the hard truth, that “vulnerability is letting love and faith take over to protect us from life’s pain.” He knows he doesn’t need pills to do that, but it is easier said than done. The force of love and the power of his music have to overcome the strength of his addiction.

DeBellis doesn’t shy away from writing the honest and heart-wrenching parts of Santiago’s life, giving the reader a greater reason to empathize with his situation. When he fears losing the beloved Steinway he grew up playing, readers feel his anxiety. When he is balancing his complicated feelings for the sweet and patient Sophia, and the seductive but conniving Kitty Holladay, we pray he will make the right decision. At the peak of his fame as a musician, when he feels like he is in danger of losing everything, we hope that everything will be all right for him in the end, and that he will find the peace he deserves. 

Touching Story of Loss and Finding Hope

The Music We Make is a melodic debut that touches on the emotional challenges of losing someone you love. It shows that there is hope when the world seems at its darkest, and music can be an anchor to pull you through. It reminds readers that life is beautiful, it is worth living, and there is always a chance for forgiveness.
After finishing this moving novel, wipe away your tears, and then go to listen to the real song, “Bird of Paradise” by Dominic DeBellis, that inspired and is featured in this story. This emotional ballad with passionate instrumentals and pop undertones conveys a longing for someone just out of reach.

Echoing the lyrics “I don’t want to live without you/ I don’t have to live without you,” the song aches with the same tone as the novel, lingering on the grief of loss and the unique love that exists between mother and son. Readers will wish it were long enough to last the length of the novel, so it could accompany as a soundtrack to the entire book.

About Michelle Rene DeBellis:

Author of the multiple award-winning novel, The Music We Make, Michelle’s vision is to deliver entertaining stories that help us make sense of our humanity.

She is proud to be the recipient of the following awards and nominations: Literary Titan’s Book Award, The Kirkus Star/as well as being included in their “Best Indie Books of 2022”, a nomination for the Pulitzer Prize for fiction, and the Pen/Hemingway debut novel award.


The Music We Make by Michelle Rene DeBellis

Publish Date: July 25, 2022

Genre: Fiction

Author: Michelle Rene DeBellis

Page Count: 393 pages

Publisher: Paradise Publishing

ISBN: 9798986167213

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