Monday, May 17, 2021

Review: The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner

 Title: The Yellow Bird Sings

Author: Jennifer Rosner 

Format: Hardcover

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Publish Date: March 30, 2020

Source: Library

What's the Story?:

From "As Nazi soldiers round up the Jews in their town, Róza and her 5-year-old daughter, Shira, flee, seeking shelter in a neighbor’s barn. Hidden in the hayloft day and night, Shira struggles to stay still and quiet, as music pulses through her and the farmyard outside beckons. To soothe her daughter and pass the time, Róza tells her a story about a girl in an enchanted garden:

The girl is forbidden from making a sound, so the yellow bird sings. He sings whatever the girl composes in her head: high-pitched trills of piccolo; low-throated growls of contrabassoon. Music helps the flowers bloom.

In this make-believe world, Róza can shield Shira from the horrors that surround them. But the day comes when their haven is no longer safe, and Róza must make an impossible choice: whether to keep Shira by her side or give her the chance to survive apart.

Inspired by the true stories of Jewish children hidden during World War II, Jennifer Rosner’s debut is a breathtaking novel about the unbreakable bond between a mother and a daughter. Beautiful and riveting, The Yellow Bird Sings is a testament to the triumph of hope―a whispered story, a bird’s song―in even the darkest of times.

My Two Cents:

"The Yellow Bird Sings" is one of those books that I missed when it initially came out (March 2020, when the pandemic was just beginning to really shake everything down). I had heard so many good things about it and so when I finally picked it up, I was kicking myself that it took so long for me to get to it. It is a great story of resilience and love.

In the book, Roza and her young daughter, Shira, are on the run from the Nazis. They take refuge in the hay loft of a neighbors' house but feel anything but safe. It's a hard existence having to be silent all the time and deal with the elements. Roza finds herself drawing the unwelcome attentions of the husband of the family but all of these tradeoffs are better than what they could face at the hands of the Nazis.

Eventually hiding isn't enough and Roza makes a decision that may save both her and Shira but it will mean being torn apart. As a mother of two daughters, it is so hard to imagine having to make the choices that Roza makes throughout the book but when you're talking about the boundless love of a parents, I see her motivation. The way the author lays out the choices was truly wrenching. The writing of the book was so amazing and really pulled me in.

The detail in the book was really great. I was struck by the way that both the conditions in the barn and the description of all of the danger Roza faced were captured in the book. You can smell the dirty hay. You can feel how hurt Roza's feet must have been. You can clearly picture how lost Shira felt without her mother.

This was a heart-wrenching story with one of the best stories I've read in a long time!


1 comment:

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