Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

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Echo is the perfect book to start my reading journey. I had seen this book in a bookstore in January 2017. I noticed how thick it was – almost 600 pages – and the bookstore staff recommended it. I did not buy it then, thinking I never would finish this book and it was probably pricey. Fast forward to April, when I had just gotten over a sickness but was still have a hard time at work. There was a book fair at my school, and I decided to buy it because I got a discount. I started reading a bit of it but made slow progress.
The more stressed at work, the more this fairy tale appealed to me. Soon after I had an incident that made me take leave from my job, I had free time, then I finished this book. (I promise it was more difficult and emotional than that.)

This book is an inspiring fairy tale. You could say it is 4 stories tied into one, and each one could be its own book. There is a magical harmonica that gets passed from child to child, and it’s not an exaggeration to say that the harmonica saves their lives. There aren’t that many books where music is a theme, at least not that I’ve read. The children in the book are musically gifted and use that gift to get them out of situations such as war, poverty, and discrimination. It is very powerful how they all come together in the concert at the end, producing music without knowing each other and linked by this one harmonica.

It was very cool how a fairy tale bookends this long novel. The harmonica was handed to a boy named Otto for him to save three princesses who were trapped, and the harmonica broke the curse and freed them. Between that is the main stories of Echo. Last compliment I must send the author is that the setting in this book is so wonderful! Each setting stood out and was developed, as a reader I got a sense of what Germany, Pennsylvania, and California were like at that time.

Gosh, a book like this is all about connections and it links to every other book I read after. I read a lot of fantasy and fairy tales. The story set in Nazi Germany relates to other books I’ve read such as Number the Stars and Berlin Boxing Club. The story about Ivy is similar to Ryan’s other books like Esperanza Rising. The story set in Pennsylvania is like Turtle in Paradise and so many others about America in the 1930s. It’s overwhelming to talk about how Echo relates to other stories. I will have to relate other stories to it in later posts!

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