Title: Broken Strings
Author: Eric Walters and Kathy Kacer
Genre: Middle Grade
Publisher: Puffin Canada
Source: Publisher via NetGalley
Release Date: September 10, 2019
A violin and a middle-school musical unleash a dark family secret in this moving story by an award-winning author duo. For fans of The Devil’s Arithmetic and Hana’s Suitcase.
It’s 2002. In the aftermath of the twin towers — and the death of her beloved grandmother — Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. The best singer in her junior high, she auditions for the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof, but is crushed to learn that she’s been given the part of the old Jewish mother in the musical rather than the coveted part of the sister. But there is an upside: her “husband” is none other than Ben Morgan, the cutest and most popular boy in the school.
Deciding to throw herself into the role, she rummages in her grandfather’s attic for some props. There, she discovers an old violin in the corner — strange, since her Zayde has never seemed to like music, never even going to any of her recitals. Showing it to her grandfather unleashes an anger in him she has never seen before, and while she is frightened of what it might mean, Shirli keeps trying to connect with her Zayde and discover the awful reason behind his anger. A long-kept family secret spills out, and Shirli learns the true power of music, both terrible and wonderful.
This story takes place a few months after 9/11, so it is appropriate that it was released the day before September 11, 2019.
There was a lot of past trauma explored in this story. Shirli’s grandfather survived the Holocaust, but he never spoke about his experience at Auschwitz. Shirli is now living in a world where everyone is suspicious of people with brown skin, because they may be Muslim. Though the Holocaust and 9/11 were different events, they both left people discriminated against because of their religion.
This story made me tear up a few times. Shirli’s grandfather’s experience at Aushwitz was difficult to read, but it is an important part of history that everyone should know. This was a very powerful story!
Thank you Penguin Random House Canada for providing a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
What to read next:
Hana’s Suitcase by Karen Levine
Hedy’s Journey: The True Story of a Hungarian Girl Fleeing the Holocaust by Michelle Bisson, El Primo Ramon
Have you read Broken Strings? What did you think of it?