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Echo

Echo

A Novel

Book - 2015 | First edition.
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Lost in the Black Forest, Otto meets three mysterious sisters and finds himself entwined in a prophecy, a promise, and a harmonica--and decades later three children, Friedrich in Germany, Mike in Pennsylvania, and Ivy in California find themselves caught up in the same thread of destiny in the darkest days of the twentieth century, struggling to keep their families intact, and tied together by the music of the same harmonica.
Publisher: New York : Scholastic Press, 2015.
Edition: First edition.
ISBN: 9780439874021
0439874025
Branch Call Number: J RYA
Characteristics: 585 pages :,illustration
Additional Contributors: Mirtalipova, Dinara

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a
AMB_4
Apr 22, 2021

When we tipped this book off the shelf at the library, it landed with a "thunk!" in the book bag. It's a hefty read -- 587 pages!

But just like with Tristan Strong, our family really loves reeeaaaally long books, so it was an instant hit. It doesn't hurt that my two kiddos study violin, as well, and could fill in some of the taken-for-granted "musical" elements of the book from their performance experiences.

Echo is the story of how a harmonica brings together the right people at the right time to save their lives, although you don't really know that when you start reading. In the process, it frees three princesses bound by a witch's curse. It is intricately plotted and a joy to read.

g
GreenNinjaGirl
Jun 29, 2020

I absolutely LOVE this book!!! It has such a good plot and a beautiful conclusion. I must say that I am partly biased in this review as I REALLY REALLY LOVE books that have multiple stories going on at the same time. It truly is a work of art. Tells 4 stories at once. The story of Friedrich who is a boy living in Germany ruled under Hilter. Mike who is an orphan in Pennyslyvania. And Ivy a Mexican American living segregated in California. Each kid has a different story and all contribute in the tale of 3 sisters and a harmonica... 11+

JCLZainabF Apr 03, 2020

Echo was a well-crafted story with adventure, mystery and a powerful sense of hope. The book brilliantly ties in three different story lines together through a harmonica. The harmonica also happens to be a key to release three princesses from a curse, which was unique.

n
navy_dolphin_421
Nov 05, 2019

A uniquely crafted story. I loved reading this book, and will randomly pick up the book to flip to my favorite parts!

JCLCharlesH Oct 17, 2019

This wonderful novel was a joy to read. A fast paced character driven plot revolving around music, this is great for young and old readers alike. I loved this book, and it was my favorite discovery of the 2019 Librarian's Read challenge.

b
becker
Aug 13, 2019

Really enjoyable middle grade fiction with a great message subtly woven into the story line.

a
AMDLibrary
Dec 04, 2018

One the richest reads I've come across. "Echo" is absolutely enchanting with a fairytailish essence that melds with the harsh realities of war, loss, racism and then the brilliance of hope, action and love woven throughout with music. Thoroughly enjoyed every character and aspect of this masterpiece. My first encounter with this author has proven to be an extraordinary experience.

m
mht2008
Nov 18, 2018

Great book! Great literature and interwined destiny. Destiny ties everything together. You don't know who destiny ties you with.

a
annphi
Jan 22, 2018

A book so touching, the characters and story will linger long after the last page. In today's tumult, this is a book that reminds us that without music, there would be little beauty. An endearing read!

t
TEENREVIEWBOARD
Aug 02, 2017

Echo was a long book but was worth every page! Every perspective was carefully crafted and different to each extent. The background story was well thought out too, and this lead to a continuous unique setting for all three POV’s. Some stories were set in World War 2 whereas each one was different and the characters faced different issues and complications in their lives. A great novel for anyone who is into a mysterious and more complex novel, and also for all music lovers! The harmonica is one of the most important factors of this book and the musical aspect was presented nicely. The characters are sure to stay with you forever! Rating 4/5
- @jewelreader of the Teen Review Board of the Hamilton Public Library

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Age Suitability

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g
GreenNinjaGirl
Jun 29, 2020

GreenNinjaGirl thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

f
FaithR
Feb 10, 2019

FaithR thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

f
Felix121
Oct 14, 2018

Felix121 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

n
natulik1
Feb 18, 2018

natulik1 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 10 and 99

g
gjrainey
Feb 12, 2018

gjrainey thinks this title is suitable for 11 years and over

b
breadchloe
Apr 24, 2017

breadchloe thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

b
blue_dog_20608
Feb 19, 2016

blue_dog_20608 thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 10 and 90

m
mauve_cat_621
Feb 14, 2016

mauve_cat_621 thinks this title is suitable for 10 years and over

a
annacleojensen
Feb 11, 2016

annacleojensen thinks this title is suitable for between the ages of 9 and 99

Quotes

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t
Tyme4u
Jun 10, 2018

"Your fate is not yet sealed.
Even in the darkest night, a star will shine,
a bell will chime, a path will be revealed."

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“Music does not have a race or a disposition!
... Every instrument has a voice that contributes. Music is a universal language...Music surpasses all distinctions between people.”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“A weight pressed on his heart. How could he want something and fear it so much at the same time?”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“Mrs. Potter said you were a kind and loving soul, underneath all the rest. I guess that means your heart's so sad that it's hard to get out from under the weight. When I was sad about my mother dying, Granny used to say grief is the heaviest thing to carry alone. So I know all about that."

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“She said people on hard times deserved to have beauty in their lives as much as anyone else, whether or not they could pay their rent or were walking to a breadline. Granny said that just because someone was poor didn't mean they were poor of heart.”

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

“Everybody has a heart. Sometimes you gotta work hard to find it"

k
KaseyNB
Apr 14, 2017

"Music does not have a race or a disposition! Every instrument has a voice that contributes. Music is a universal language. A universal religion of sorts. Certainly it's my religion. Music surpasses all distinctions between people."

Summary

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a
AMB_4
Apr 22, 2021

It starts with a little boy, Otto, in the 1860s. To while away the time while playing hide-and-seek, he pulls open a book he bought from a Gypsy, "The Thirteenth Harmonica of Otto Messenger." By the time he's come to the end, the game is over and he's hopelessly lost -- until the princesses of the tale appear and ask him to read the tale to them. It's the first time you come across its strange rhyming prophecy, and you know more is to come, because the rest of the pages are still blank.

Now, it helps to know that a harmonica is a wind instrument, made by blowing air across a wooden reed, making it a "woodwind," as opposed to a "horn" -- like a trumpet or French horn. It is also often referred to as a "harp," sometimes a "French harp" or a "mouth organ." But make no mistake, it's not a stringed harp, nor is it an organ, with keys that hit pipes and use air to project the notes and are (mostly) played in churches.

Otto, the little boy, has a harmonica in his pocket, as well as the book, as he's reading to the princesses. Now, harmonicas were invented in the 1820s, so this would have been a relatively inexpensive, compact and sturdy instrument for a child to have, compared to others like a violin.

Each princess plays it, and their spirits are taken out of the enchanted place and transferred to the harmonica.

Just from this you can decipher most, if not all, of the prophecy, but how it plays out, across three lifetimes, is an amazing tale.

Friedrich Schmidt loses everything on the eve of WWII in Germany -- his big sister, Elisabeth, his father who played cello and worked in the harmonica factory with his Uncle Gunter -- in order for the harmonica to end up, purchased and packed off to it's next owner...

Mike Flannery and his little brother, Frankie, in The Bishop's Home for Friendless and Destitute Children in the US, where they play piano and impress Mr. Golding, who takes the boys from the orphanage so they can become wards of Mrs. Sturbridge, who needs to adopt one of them to fulfill the terms of her father's will and inherit his fortune.

Mike quickly susses out that she's not interested in adopting him, so he formulates a plan -- to purchase a harmonica from a catalog, learn to play it and run away and join the Philadelphia Harmonica Band for boys ages 9 to 14. When he plays it, he hears echos of a cello, but he masters the instrument, practicing hard and even winning a spot in the band.

But as he's running away, on the way out, he falls from a tree, and the story moves on to ...

Ivy Maria Lopez, who lives outside Fresno and plays harmonica and has to move when her father loses his job about a year into the United States' involvement in WWII. He takes a new job nearer Los Angeles as caretaker of a farm and property of an Asian-American farmer, a Mr. Yamamoto, after he's been rounded up and placed in a Japanese internment camp.

She and her family fight an attempt by a neighboring land owner to take over the property, by discovering Mr. Yamamoto's secret room of musical instruments.

When the neighbor's son is shipped off to WWII, Ivy hands him the harmonica, and it passes to...

Kenny Ward.

I won't spoil the ending, but it is an amazing example of a denouement that brings all the strings of the tale together in an amazing weave of story and poignant emotion and music, so much beautiful music.

And the princesses? Are they ever set free?

Read, enjoy, and find out how it ends!

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