I just read a book that I loved. Some books stay with you after the last page; you find yourself thinking about them as you go about your day. Pam Munoz Ryan’s new book, Echo, is that kind of book. It’s historical fiction, but begins in an enchanted forest in Germany where a young boy connects with a harmonica that seems to have magical qualities: not only does it make an unusually beautiful sound but it gives the person playing it hope and power.
The harmonica connects the three stories from the 20th century that follow. Friedrich is a disfigured 12-year old outcast in Nazi Germany. Mike is a poor orphan In Pennsylvania during the Depression, and Ivy is an itinerant farmer’s daughter in California as the United States enters World War II. The harmonica travels through the years, connecting, inspiring, and healing each of the three young people, and empowering them to stand up to the fears and intolerance of their worlds.
The book is deliciously long (nearly 600 pages) but reads quickly. Don’t miss the ending: it amazingly brings all the stories together.
And you’ll never see a harmonica in the same way again.