Surviving an accident that takes his mother’s life, twenty-two-year-old songwriter, Santiago DeAngelo is consumed by grief, guilt, and the opiates he is prescribed for his injuries.

    Nearing rock bottom, he receives inspiration for a song from his late mother. As he struggles to write it, he falls in love with Kitty Holladay, a music producer who offers a rare shot at fame with a hidden agenda. Kitty seduces him into the fast-paced world of pop music where he records a hit album while fighting his opiate addiction to write the one song that will help him make peace with his mother’s death.

    But when their relationship ends over the betrayal of that song, Santiago must decide the real value of his life in a moment that nearly ends it.

     The Music We Make is a story of overcoming our pain to achieve our dreams.

Winner of the literary titan
book award

listed in
"the 100 Best Indie Books of 2022"

nominated for the pulitzer prize for fiction
The Pen/Hemingway debut novel award




By Jessica Bingaman

The Perfect First Novel


By Sam Bland for

The Music We Make is an electric whirlwind of every type of emotion. These emotions are displayed through the perspectives of Santiago, a lost soul who has just lost his mother to a terrible car accident, and Kitty Holladay, a music producer who offers Santiago another chance at life... 

The Writing is a Treat for the Senses


     This story blooms slowly and strategically like a flower. The characters are flawed, which makes them so relatable and real; it's within the characters' flaws that...

By Author Laura Botten

Well Crafted, Page Turning Debut


A Beautiful, Heart Shattering Debut 

Santiago just lost his mother. With a strained relationship with his father and the guilt and sadness coursing through him after that loss, he falls deep into addiction...

By Author Caitlin Moss


"To say that I loved this book is putting it mildly. It has serious Jackie Collins vibes in all the best ways. No subject is taboo, from drug addiction to the dynamics of various relationships, the music industry, to sex. It covers it all. . .

By Author Donna Scuvotti

Serious Jackie Collins Vibes


     "Few books published nowadays can be considered to be 'important art' as this book is. Despite the layered themes, complexity and depth of characters. . . 

Important Art

By Author Hosam zaki

"Carefully captures the dynamics of grief and how inspiration can prevail over the darkest moments in one's life. . ."


Bestowed on books that expertly deliver complex characters, intricate worlds and thought-provoking themes. the ease with which the story is told is a reflection of the author's talent in exercising fluent, powerful, and appropriate language.

     As the story opens in 2017 in Redlands, California, 22-year-old Santiago DeAngelo’s friend Abby Wilson asks him if he’s going to make any New Year’s resolutions. Santiago, a talented musician who’s four years into a five-year architecture degree and plans to apprentice with his successful architect father, tells her he doesn’t need to make any resolutions: “I’m right on track.” But life has other plans: 


Kirkus Reviews


Remarkable Empathy 

Reviews of

"It is uncommon to find a timely topic like addiction woven into a story with such humor, wisdom, and suspense.
Yet that is what Michelle Rene DeBellis has done in this perfect first novel.

"Life never supports our art. Our art supports our spirit and makes life worth living."

A quote from The Music We Make