Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
Friedrich lives in pre-World War II Germany. It's a world where he is slowly exposed to Hitler's rise to power and the injustices committed against friends and his father. Then we have Mike and Frankie's story. They are orphans during the war, which is a time period when no one really cares very much about orphans. Mike is the oldest and his grandmother had to leave him and Frankie at the orphanage due to her ailing health. He promised her he would keep the two boys together. Finally Ivy is introduced. She is a Mexican-American who lives in California during the war and moves to new places as her father works in the fields. An opportunity arises to own their own home if they can take care of an orchard for a Japanese family who has been taken into an internment camp. Ivy promised her brother that she would hold the family together while he is away fighting the war. The common thread in each of these stories is a special harmonica.
I LOVE THIS AUTHOR!!!! I was really excited when I saw Pam Munoz Ryan had a new book out as I love her other titles. While I admit I was a bit overwhelmed when I saw the size of the book (it has 587 pages), I was so sad when it was over. The book has four stories woven into one, with three of them set during the World War II era. There are so many emotions you go through when you read this book. Ryan is a master at ending a character's story at a climax and then beginning the next character's tale. You desperately want to find out what happened to the character, yet the new story line drags you into the life of the next character so quickly you don't know what to do, so you keep reading. In each story, music has a huge impact on these young people's lives and ultimately may be responsible for them keeping their faith in the world.
I picked up the book thinking it was going to be all fantasy but was so happy to discover its use of history to tell the stories and the racial challenges people endured during World War II. This is going to be a book I add to my collection and have already recommended to my friends. Since summer vacation is upon us, I STRONGLY encourage you to dive into this book especially since it fits with our reading theme. YOU WILL LOVE IT!!!