The narrative of this book flips seamlessly through the life of Peter Els from early childhood through to old age. From composer to possible bioterrorist (maybe.) We meet him at his highs and lows- each moment punctuated by song. If you have the capabilities I suggest listening to each piece of classical music he describes. It enhances an already powerful novel. I felt my breath in my throat throughout this genuinely smart, beautiful book. I plan on running out and buying every Richard Powers book available.