“Your fate is not yet sealed.
Even in the darkest night, a star will shine,
a bell will chime, a path will be revealed.”
WOWIE WHAT A STORY!
I had high expectations for Echo and Pam Muñoz Ryan. I loved Esperanza Rising so I was sure this book would impact me just the same.
Echo is only a couple years old, and I discovered it while browsing the bookshops with my friends this past summer. The cover caught my first: more silhouettes, simple designs, and beautiful colors. Then I noticed the authors name, and finally, the story. A magical harmonica journeys through three different characters: Friedrich Schmidt, a twelve-year old boy living in Germany during Hitler’s rise, Mike Flannery, an orphan boy who won’t leave his younger brother’s side in Philadelphia, and Ivy Maria Lopez, a young girl who moves often, struggling to be good for her family in Southern California, a year after Pearl Harbor.
So how is this harmonica magical? Well, the book opens just like any fairytale would. Three musically gifted princesses, cursed by a witch, found by a young boy in Germany. Otto, the young boy, is tasked by the princesses to send this magical harmonica into the world, to be the Messenger of their song. And how fitting it is passed through three different children who each love music dearly.
Although, to be honest, I think the book could stand on its own without the fairytale frame. I still enjoyed it, and thinking that the harmonica found each kid through magic makes it exciting.
Music, and the harmonica, is a character in Echo as well. It connects the stories together, from each special piece of music slipping into the next story: Brahm’s Lullaby through Friedrich, “America the Beautiful” with Mike, and “Auld Lang Syne” by Ivy. Each song playing an important role in each child’s life, creating an orchestra inside our imaginations.
Speaking of the music, I’d definitely suggest listening to the audiobook. It had harmonica compositions, as well as the cello, piano, and several other instruments. I’ve cried several times just listening to the music, and you might too!
So do the characters actually meet? YES! Kind of. In the final chapters of the story, their worlds all come together many years later, Friedrich conducting an orchestra where Ivy and Mike play an instrument in. In the final chapters, we’re taken through flashbacks, learning what happened at the end of each cliffhanger for the characters, including Otto the Messenger.
Sadly, they never mention the harmonica that had each come into their lives. It’s fun to leave that up to the imagination, but wow, what a coincidence if that’s ever brought up again. It’s a fun thought!
I haven’t stopped thinking about this book since I finished it. Music connects us all, and even through Echo it continues to connect us through time.
And that sounds like magic to me!