Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
If you liked The Book Thief or All the Light We Cannot See, this is your next book, without the sadness. The value of this novel is two fold; it is a brilliantly written and powerful historical fiction. The story is about three children facing different life circumstances as World War II is unfolding. All the children are musical prodigies, with their own hardships to overcome. The children’s lives follow an invisible magical trail as a harmonica is passed around the world. Music plays an integral role in the novel; it is the background character orchestrating the life paths of each child.
Their stories seem separate, yet there is a magical and invisible tie that connects their lives. It exemplifies for children the complicated and devastating rise of Adolf Hitler, the irrational and unfair treatment of the Japanese, and the people who never stopped working for good in the face of evil. These hard themes are balanced with the hope of love and family, and the power of music to comfort and create beauty in hard times. The beautiful writing and finely crafted story make this a read for a voracious grade school reader, or any adult.
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