Date Published: February 24, 2015
Book Author: Pam Muñoz Ryan
Summary reviewed by:
Bachelor of Arts (BA), University Of California, Santa Barbara 2019
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"In a world where music has a soul and harmonicas bind destinies, 'Echo' unveils a tale interwoven across time." Set against the backdrop of diverse places—from Nazi Germany to the dusty farms of California—the narrative traces the stories of four distinct characters. As their tales unfurl, a single thread binds them all—a mysterious harmonica. Otto's fairy-tale encounter in the enchanted woods sets in motion a journey that defies time. Friedrich's story in pre-World War II Germany is fraught with challenges, painting a life overshadowed by the threat of the Nazi regime. In America, Mike grapples with the Great Depression, while Ivy faces the injustices of a segregated wartime society. Each character’s journey is touched by the power of music, leading them toward a shared destiny.
Spoilers (click here to reveal spoilers)
As their stories progress, each protagonist experiences transformative moments driven by the melody of the harmonica. By the end, their fates converge in a symphony of hope and redemption. Friedrich manages to escape Nazi Germany, ensuring his family's safety. Mike and his brother Frankie find a family with Mrs. Sturbridge, while Ivy discovers her true home and identity. The harmonica finds its way back to Otto, completing the circle and reiterating the belief that music transcends barriers, binding souls together.
Otto: A young boy who stumbles upon a magical harmonica and three princesses in an enchanted forest. He values bravery, as showcased when he promises to break the curse binding the princesses.
Friedrich: Living in Nazi Germany, Friedrich faces challenges due to a birthmark on his face. His resilience and hope shine when he chooses to defy the regime and help his family.
Mike: A passionate pianist in an orphanage with his younger brother Frankie, Mike cherishes loyalty. His determination to secure a future for Frankie, even considering a life of crime, reflects his undying devotion.
Ivy: A Mexican-American girl relocated during World War II, Ivy values justice. Confronting the discriminatory practices at her school and helping a Japanese family illustrates her fight against prejudice.
Power of Music: The harmonica serves as a beacon of hope and change for the main characters. Friedrich finds solace in his music amidst the chaos of Nazi Germany, while Mike and Ivy use it to navigate their respective challenges.
Interconnectedness: The separate stories of Otto, Friedrich, Mike, and Ivy converge, showing that destiny can intertwine lives across time and space.
Perseverance: Each character endures personal hardships, be it societal prejudices or familial challenges. Ivy’s relentless battle against segregation and Friedrich’s resilience against Nazi oppression highlight this theme.
Family and Loyalty: Familial bonds and loyalty remain at the heart of the narrative. Mike’s dedication to Frankie’s wellbeing and Friedrich’s sacrifices for his family underline the lengths one goes to for loved ones.
Overcoming Adversity: Despite facing societal challenges, each character rises above their circumstances. Ivy’s decision to stand up against discrimination and Mike’s choices to ensure a better life for him and Frankie exemplify this theme.