Tuesday, February 24, 2015

[Release Day Review] Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Music, magic, and a real-life miracle meld in this genre-defying masterpiece from storytelling maestro Pam Muñoz Ryan.

Lost and alone a forbidden 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, in turn, become interwoven when the very same harmonica lands in their lives. All the children face daunting challenges: rescuing a father, protecting a brother, holding a family together. And ultimately, pulled by the invisible thread of destiny, their suspenseful solo stories converge in an orchestral crescendo. 

Richly imagined and masterfully crafted, ECHO pushes the boundaries of genre and form, and shows us what is possible in how we tell stories. The result is an impassioned, uplifting, and virtuosic tour de force that will resound in your heart long after the last note has been struck.


”Your fate is not yet sealed.

Even in the darkest night, a star will shine, 
A bell will chime, a path will be revealed.”

From the very beginning of Otto and his encounter with the tree sisters, to three very separate and heartbreaking stories, Echohas managed to move something deep inside of my heart and fall in love with it from the very first chapter. 

After a short and magical prologue of Otto and the start of harmonica’s journey, we are introduced to Friedrich Schmidt in 1933, Germany. Hitler has just started to gather everyone and weed out the “unclean” and Friedrich has a very tough decision to either follow his sister and become a Hitlerite or share the passion against the new laws with his father. But the problem is that he has a birthmark that will never let him be anyone in life and will only mark him as the monster. After discovering harmonica and letting it fill his heart with joy, he has a plan to save his father and uncle, no matter how big the odds up. 

1935 – Pennsylvania, USA. In this part of the book we get to know Mike Flannery and his younger brother Frankie. The story behind these two is very heartwarming and really made me feel how unfortunate some children can be. They both were placed into an orphanage where the staff could not care less about the children and only how they can make money off them. With luck turning around, they are being adopted but with so many struggles and uncertainty, Mike will have to take his harmonica and decide whether protecting his brother is more important than anything else. 

Fast forward to 1942, California. Ivy Maria Lopez and her family get a break and have to move to a new plantation. The owners have been taken under arrest under suspicion to help with Japanese spies and Ivy’s father has to keep up with the farm to look over it. With unfairness to different race, Ivy has to be in another school with only Mexicans but harmonica and her playing being her joy that she never had before. Figuring out how to hold the family together while her brother is fighting the war is a lot harder than it seems for a girl who’s only in fifth grade. 


Echo has captured my heart. I never thought that I would be so engrossed in historical novel but the events that were occurring made me feel something else. Instead of facts and same stories that were spoken about over and over, it’s a new concept of a harmonica that touches lives of different families and in the end, brings them together. Incredible writing and the plot, I have found my new favorite author!