Author: Pam Muñoz Ryan
Genre: Middle School Age, Fairytale, Historical, Humanity
Narrator: Mark Bramhall, David de Vries, MacLeod Andrews, and Rebecca Soler
Blurb (From Goodreads):
Music, magic, and a real-life miracle meld in this virtuosic, genre-defying tour de force from storytelling maestro Pam Muoz Ryan. Lost and alone in the forbidden Black Forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and suddenly finds himself entwined in a puzzling quest involving a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica.
Decades later, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California each become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives, binding them by an invisible thread of destiny. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. How their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck.
Richly imagined and structurally innovative, ECHO pushes the boundaries of form and shows us what is possible in how we tell stories.
Echo is not a book I would have picked up on my own. Never would I have read the blurb and thought, “hey, this book is for me!” However, I have a friend who is a youth/young adult librarian, and she read a variety of things, some of them specifically to have a better knowledge of her product. She listened to this book via audio, and thought it was great, and pressured me into listening to the audiobook specifically because the audiobook comes with musical interludes that correlates with what is happening in the book.
What I Loved: This book isn’t simply fiction. It isn’t non-fiction. This book isn’t even straight up literary fiction. Describing Echo to others has been a little bit something like this: “It’s a fairytale, historical fiction, and a lesson in humanity wrapped into one book.” Echo starts off with a short fairytale, or myth, which surrounds music. Music, specifically harmonica music played on specific harmonicas becomes the point zero of this tale, but once the first part is completed it quickly branches off into three different stories taking place in a somewhat jagged yet still the same timeline. Each story is unique, yet the lessons seem to be about the same.
I love the woven tales, the music, the relationship between the stories, and the differences. I LOVE the message of this book most of all.
Not So Much: I can’t tell if it was mean, or genius how the stories are broken down. All I have to say is that if you are using some kind of electronic device, you might have a strong temptation to throw it. Don’t do it. Just trust me.
I cannot speak more highly of this book. I know my review was vague, and it is purposeful, because the journey itself is what makes this special. If I were to lay out details too specific, it might ruin the effect for you. I suggest getting the audiobook if you are able to. This book is written for Middle Age/Jr. High Age, and it’s very age appropriate. In fact, I recommend it for your children, and you adults as well!