Monday, February 15, 2016

Echo

Echo. Pam Munoz Ryan. 2015. Scholastic. 592 pages. [Source: Library]

Did I enjoy reading Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan? Yes. I found it both unique and compelling. Echo is unique in that it has three-in-one feel to it. Essentially Echo being three middle-grade novels in one. The three are held together by a fairy-tale-esque frame of a story, and, also a physical object: an harmonica. The framework of the story would lead me to think of it as "fantasy" or magical realism. But without that framework--which consists of just a few pages at the beginning and the end--the book IS historical fiction. Nothing happens within the three stories that couldn't--wouldn't--happen in the real world.

The book has three main characters. Friedrich living in Nazi Germany in the early 1930s; Mike living in Pennsylvania in the mid-1930s; Ivy living in California in the early 1940s. Music is a big part of each story, and, each have played the same harmonica.

So which story did I find most compelling? That's not a fair question at all! Friedrich perhaps would be my answer. He is very gifted, but, also publicly and privately shamed because of a birthmark and the fact that he had had epilepsy as a baby/toddler. His "imperfections" may prove too costly for him and his family with Hitler now in control. That and the fact that his father--a musician--is friendly with Jews. Is he "different"? Yes. But in a good way--a BRILLIANT way. When he hears a piece of music, he really HEARS it and REMEMBERS it. And he can play and replay it in his mind, it can "continue" to sweep him away each time. And the fact that he likes to pretend to conduct the music he hears in his head, well, that makes him horribly odd to outsiders. A handful of adults really see him as something special, but, others see him as an embarrassment, a disgrace, a mistake. This story had a few heartbreaking scenes in it. Scenes with the sister, Elizabeth, for example.

The other two stories are set in America. Mike's story features him and his little brother--both orphans. Both are musically gifted which proves to be fortunate. For a wealthy woman has to adopt a musical boy into her family in order to inherit her father's money. The problem? She doesn't *want* to be reminded of heartbreak in her own past. Can Mike and Frankie thaw her heart? Ivy's story is definitely centered on World War II. Her story is slightly more complex than the other two to summarize clearly. Essentially, Ivy (and her family) are Hispanic. They have moved a LOT through Ivy's young life. But the father receives an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. If he will manage a piece of property for another family--a Japanese-American family being forced to resettle in an internment camp--then he will be hired on as manager or kept on as manager after the war and receive a small bit of property/house. The family experiences some prejudice after the move. Ivy can't attend school with white children. But she can participate in after school activities at the main school--including orchestra.

Overall, this one worked for me. Perhaps some scenes are better--stronger--than others. It is a long novel for middle-graders. As I said, it's like three-in-one! But I essentially enjoyed it


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

2 comments:

Cee Arr 6:29 AM  

sounds interesting!

1writingservice.com 7:26 AM  

After reading your review I understood that this book looks really interesting. That idea of connecting three novels with one fairy tale and a musical instrument makes it more interesting to read.

Post a Comment

I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

The background is based on a background I found here...with some small adjustments on my part so it would work with the template.
Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP