Echo (hardcover)

by Pam Muñoz Ryan

AR Level 4.9, 13 points


In the beginning, Echo tells of a boy playing hide and seek with his friend in a forest.  He meets 3 musical girls and then we learn their story- they were the 3 abandoned princesses and they are stuck in time due to a witch’s spell.  Then we jump to the story of a young, odd, German boy during Nazi Germany.  He faces difficulties due to the happenings in his town, but has a special skill with a mysterious harmonica, and finds himself in an especially bad situation.  His story ends, and we meet two orphaned brothers in Pennsylvania who are also musically inclined (and have a similar harmonica to the previous boy’s.  They are adopted but discover they are not wanted, so they run away, and then the book jumps to a young girl in California during World War II.  She has a special talent with the harmonica, and she has to find a way to clear a Japanese family’s name while keeping her own family together.  In the end, we see how these 3 stories are connected, and share a special talent with the magical harmonica.

What I liked about this book was that the 3 stories were really interesting and engaging.  I looked forward to seeing how the harmonica played a part in their lives and how their stories would end.  However, each time, the story ended on a cliffhanger.  In the end, it was neat to see how their lives intertwined and they shared a similar sense of perseverance in life.

What I didn’t like about this book was that every time I became interested in a story, it ended.  The end of the novel left me wanting more.  I think each person could have gotten their own book, because each story had merit to stand on its own, but then there wouldn’t have been that connection in the end.  I also really wanted  more about how they were connected other than the symphony.  I wanted them to know each other and present their harmonicas.  It was a good story, though, with a great message at the end.

Since Echo is a LONG book (nearly 600 pages), I’m counting it as 2 books for 2 separate challenges!  I read half before school started, and finished it the week after school started, so it only makes sense to count it for both.

Book 9 of 10 for my summer challenge

Books 1 of 40 for the 40 Book school year challenge  (I’ve decided to read along with my students to meet this goal).