Echo: A Fabulous Story

November 11 2017 - Every once in a while I encounter a novel which rises so far above the rest of the pack, I want to put it into a class by itself.

Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan falls right into this category. On its face, it is a well told tale. Or should I say tales. There are actually four stories in one. All of them tied to each other often in ways that are delightfully unexpected.

In the beginning we are introduced to Otto, a boy lost in the woods, who encounters three magical sisters fifty years before the war to end all wars. Later we meet Frederich Schmidt, a musically talented, but disfigured boy in pre-WW II Germany. Next we encounter the two orphans, Mike and Frankie Flannery, whose only escape from mistreatment in a depression era orphanage is Mike's musical genius. And lastly we meet Ivy Lopez, whose father uproots her and her mother to save the farm of a Japanese-American family who are relocated into an internment camp during WWII.

Each of these stories alone is a little gem of bravery, family, and courage.

Taken together, with the common threads of music, and a semi magical harmonica in the mix, and you have something far greater than the individual tales.

What makes the Scholastic Audio version of this book even more memorable is the musical interludes recorded in and among the narration. Never obtrusive, always spot on appropriate to the text, they add a dimension to the story which elevates it to something just short of a performance.

And let me assure you, the music does not get in the way of the story. Not at all.

Do yourself an enormous favor, and bump it to the top of your reading list.

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