Broken Strings

Puffin Canada. Sept. 2019. 288p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780735266247.
Gr 5 Up–Shirli was born with music in her blood, so landing a lead role in her middle school’s production of Fiddler on the Roof is an amazing opportunity. Unfortunately, she isn’t given the role of one of the sisters as she was expecting, but the role of the mother. Disappointed at first, Shirli tries to embrace the role and its benefits, including spending time with her stage husband and crush Ben Morgan. On a quest to prepare for her performance, Shirli asks her grandfather for props from the old clothes and furniture in his attic. There she discovers an old violin and poster for her grandfather and his family’s band. When Shirli asks her grandfather, who never listens to music or seems to have any musical talent, about the violin, he tells her of the time he spent playing in a concentration camp during World War II. As her grandfather slowly recounts bits of his and his family’s stories, she begins to feel a new closeness to him, as well as to her role in the musical. Taking place in the year after 9/11, the novel weaves the uncertainty and discrimination felt during the time following the terrorist attacks with Shirli’s grandfather’s experience during World War II.
VERDICT A tale that teaches both history and compassion; a great choice for middle grade readers

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