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Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Echo bookIt appears to be almost impossible for me to read the Tell Me What to Read books in the order I said I was going to read them.

I said I was going to be reading Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan in August, but then in June I found myself needing a new audiobook to listen to and EVERYONE on this post was raving about how amazing the audiobook version of Echo was.

So I snagged a copy of audio copy of it and . . . you guys were right. The audio version was incredible.

It’s read by four different narrators and there is a bunch of music woven into the narrative and the whole thing just blew my mind.

It won a Newbery Honor back in January and it absolutely deserved it.

The blurb about it didn’t really give me a great sense of what the story was actually about, so I felt like I kind of went into it blindly, which is somewhat rare for me, since I usually do a reasonable amount of reading about a book before I jump in.

echo by pam munoz ryan

The book begins with a young boy named Otto who wanders into the Black Forest and meets three sisters – he discovers their story, which includes a prophecy and a harmonica. Of course, when he returns to his home, no one believes he met these three sisters.

The storyline then moves to three different children spread across the world. You get almost the complete story about each one and then it ends on something of a cliffhanger and goes onto the next child’s story.

First, you have Friedrich. He lives in Germany as Hitler is rising to power and he dreams of being an orchestra conductor. But he has a large birthmark on his face and, in a country looking for a superior race, Friedrich is not a prime candidate. His sister has fully bought into Hitler’s vision for the country, which quickly starts to divide their family. Then Friedrich’s father disappears and it’s up to Friedrich to attempt to save him.

Next you have Mike, an orphan boy in Pennsylvania with a talent for music and a single-eyed determination to protect his little brother. Their chances of being adopted, especially together, seem very slim but Mike thinks it’s possible that he can use his musical abilities to make life better for his younger brother (even if that’s at his own expense).

And then Ivy in California. Her family is from Mexico and despite the fact that her older brother is off fighting for the U.S. military in World War II, her family is facing significant racism in their new home in California. Of course, it seems somewhat minimal when Ivy compares it to the family who once resided in the house her family is now responsible for taking care of. That family is Japanese and they’ve been sent to live in an internment camp for the duration of the war, leaving their beautiful home and land behind with the hope that they’ll someday be allowed to return.

Of course, all these stories tie together through the harmonica that each of them ends up with for a period of time, and at the end, when you learn how each child’s story intertwines, it makes for a beautiful finale.

I’ve read some reviews saying it tied up too neatly and they would have preferred to guess for themselves how each story wrapped up, but I’ll admit I’m one of those people who basically wants as many details as possible about how everything turned out, so I didn’t mind for a moment.

And this Echo book is really one where the audio version is worth listening to if possible – I can’t tell you how many reviews I’ve read saying this was the BEST audiobook they’d ever listened to. (You can sign up for a free Audible trial and get two free audiobooks, so if you’ve never used Audible, this is an excellent way to get Echo for free).

This was one of those books where I was looking for tasks to do so I could keep listening.

I’m always so impressed by books set in and around WWII that manage to feel new and fresh, despite the fact that approximately ten trillion books have been written about WWII.

Echo was one of those books.

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  1. I love your book reviews- we have very similar taste in books, I think! (Also I’m having a baby girl in two months, so your mom stories are really poignant for me)
    Where do you get your audiobooks? I have OverDrive, but my local library’s selection leaves a little something to be desired (mostly Bill O’Reilly books and Christian historical romances). Is there a cheaper option than Audible?

  2. Audible is having a huge summer listening sale on children’s books right now. I just checked and Echo is part of the sale. It’s $3.95. I have the book out from the library right now but I haven’t started it yet and with such a high recommendation on the audiobook I’m tempted to try it on audio instead.

  3. Ooo, this one is on my TBR list, so maybe I’ll have to move it up to be higher in the queue! Plus, I’ve been on the hunt for a new audiobook, so I appreciate the recommendation 🙂

  4. I’ve noticed that many of your tell me what to read review posts start out with (what I see as) a negative comment about your ability to follow through. You seem to have some guilt over not reading them in the correct month, or in the correct order. Maybe you should change your expectations to “3 books I’ll read in the next 3 months.” Because tone doesn’t come across well, please know this is said in a gentle kind spirit. I’m here because I like your reviews, your writing style and your parenting approach (I’ve been following since before Ani was born), not because I’m evaluating you on getting the books read on time. <3

  5. Great book! I will say that as a 2x speed listener, the sped up music interwoven throughout sounded ridiculous, so I had so listen at the normal pace, which made the narration feel really slow. I loved the story, but just couldn’t find a happy medium to make the speed for the audiobook work for me.

  6. I just downloaded this one to my iPhone via Overdrive. I’d been on the hold list for quite a while. I’m glad to hear that you liked the audio version so much!

  7. I loved this SO much, and as for the ending–I thought it was perfect because I got to relish the “What happens next?” feeling and use my imagination for most of the book, and then have what almost felt like the author’s own imagining of what could have happened, to add to my impressions.

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