I’ve been reading…a lot. Which (hopefully) explains why I haven’t been writing.
Between TLA in Austin, ALA in San Fran, and numerous trips to the library, this has been a summer of stories. Sad stories (Orbiting Jupiter), funny stories (Star Wars: Jedi Academy), concept stories (Friendshape), fantastical adventure stories (Milo Speck: Accidental Agent), historical stories (A Night Divided), graphic historical stories (Sunny Side Up), realistic stories (Goodbye, Stranger), and more. A lot more.
One story, though, stands out. As of today – July 16, 2015 – this has the distinction as the 2015 Best Book I’ve Read This Summer (So Far): Pam Muñoz Ryan’s Echo.
It’s a big one, clocking in at 587 pages. Don’t let the size hold you back like I did, though. The writing, the stories, make it so you never look at the page count until the end, when you realize in horror that the book will soon be over.
Ryan is a master at historical fiction, having written gems like Esperanza Rising, Riding Freedom, and Becoming Naomi Leon. Echo, though, is her masterpiece. In it, she tells the seemingly separate stories of Friedrick (in Nazi Germany), Mike (in 1940’s Philly), and Ivy (in WWII California), weaving them seamlessly with the theme of music. And while it was maddening how each story ended in an abrupt cliffhanger, it was pure brilliance when the tapestry of the three stories grew to a crescendo in the fourth, tear-invoking story. Fittingly, Echo includes both a folklore-esque prelude and postlude, making the book one that will stay with the reader for a long, long time. Hence, the title: Echo.
I’m staking my claim now: Echo will be a Newbery winner or honor title come Winter 2016. It’ll have tough competition (see: Goodbye, Stranger…SO. GOOD!), but it is So Very Worthy. And a special shout-out to Scholastic’s Tracy Mack, who told me to move this book to the top of my to-read pile. Tracy, you were right. I thank you.
If your’re curious, you can follow me on Twitter with the hashtag #2015BBIRTSsf, which will clock some of the very best books I’m reading this summer. Now, back to the books!