I was drawn to this book for three reasons:
The title … How mysterious! How intriguing!
The cover … So lovely. The colours are just gorgeous, and the silhouettes made me think of my own happy days of childhood.
The name Pam Muñoz Ryan … An author well known for weaving MG magic? Of course I’ll give it a read!
Echo is a beautifully conceived and masterfully written piece of art. I know all authors work hard on their books, but there are some stories that readers can just feel are labours of love. And as soon as we realize how much plotting and planning obviously went into a particular story, we sort of root for not only the characters, but also for the author to keep the momentum going – to make the end of the novel as enticing as the beginning. I felt compelled to finish Echo after just a few pages in. Maybe it’s because the setting of the novel is before and after the Second World War. I get very emotional imagining the lives of children whenever wars are involved (The War that Saved My Life did the same for me). Or maybe I just wanted to find out what Eins’, Zwei’s, and Drei’s real names are. Whatever it was, I stuck on for the 300-page ride and was left exhausted and exhilarated at the end of it.
Here’s what you need to know: the book is sewn together by a harmonica that finds its way into the hands of three children from various parts of the world at different points in time. Much in the same way that the wand chooses the wizard, the harmonica seems to end up with the correct owner, right when that child needs its magical tones most. Whether to befriend the outcast, to comfort the orphaned, or to inspire the poor, the harmonica with the mysterious M etched onto it gives each child the strength and determination he/she needs to blossom in a troubled world. Three stories that are all different but all equally touching left me wondering if the M stood for “miracle”.
Why You’ll Love Friedrich
Have you ever known anyone to have been outcast because of their looks? Maybe it was a simple mark like an inconveniently placed mole or something more drastic like a badly scarred face. If so, then you’ll want to hug Friedrich from the moment you meet him. He’s kindhearted and dedicated to his father and uncle; he understands the sacrifices his family has made for him. You’ll feel heartbroken when you understand why one of his coworkers reacts to him in a particular way because Friedrich’s innocence has not yet allowed him to realize the darkness of humanity at this time.
Why You’ll Love Mike
If you are lucky enough to have a wonderful sibling or to know someone who cares about you as if you were family, you’ll be instantly drawn to Mike. He is 11 years old, but wise beyond those years. He’s grateful to have a bed in the orphanage, but his indomitable spirit allows him to hope for better things to come. Mike’s best quality is his fierce protectiveness of his brother, Frankie. He willingly sacrifices himself to ensure Frankie’s happiness and well-being, which is the kind of love enviable by all. He carries the weight of the world on his shoulders just so Frankie doesn’t have to worry. Who wouldn’t want someone like that in their lives?
Why You’ll Love Ivy
When Ivy has to leave her home abruptly, without even being given the chance to say goodbye to the handful of people who have been nice to her, I felt her pain. I understand the injustice she feels and the guilt that runs through her, and I empathize with her struggle to feel bad for the cruelty of it all, despite her knowing that she should be grateful. You’ll love Ivy for the strength she displays on the first day of school and for her wisdom in rising above everyone’s expectations of her. She is innately compassionate with a strong sense of justice, which makes her unique as a character. Once you get to know her, you just know she will do great things in her life.
Even though the jump between the prologue and the main story had me confused for a bit (cliffhung, if you will), I only have heaps of praise for this story from the remarkable Pam Muñoz Ryan. I’m sure you’ll love it as much as I do, so please let me know when it finally finds its way into your hands!
Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Online Corners
Thank you, Scholastic, for sending me a copy of Echo
in exchange for an honest review.
All opinions and suggestions expressed herein are entirely my own.