Review Blog

Mar 22 2017

This is my song by Richard Yaxley

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Scholastic, 2017. ISBN 9781760276140
(Age: 12+) Recommended. Jews. Holocaust. Czeck Republic. Canada. Music. In the 1940's Rafael Ullman is sent to Terezin, a Jewish ghetto, with his family. His father was a professor in German Literature at Prague University but this did not save him from the fate of many Jews in Europe during World War Two.
This story is told by Rafael as an older man as he lies dying. He has not told much of his story in the past. But we hear of the privations suffered in the ghetto before they are sent to Auschwitz.
Through it all, it is music which keeps Rafael alive, as he becomes a member of one of the orchestras set up in the camp.
No reader can be unaffected by a tale set in Nazi Germany, and it is with some easing of the emotional drain that the next two sections of the story are set in Canada and Australia, as another generation lives on. In Canada we meet lonely Anna Ullman, Rafael's daughter, and then in present time, the grandson, Joe Hawker, in Australia. Music links the three generations as they find their way in a world devoid of stability. Anna was not allowed music in the home and she and her mother secretly played Beethoven's Fifth Symphony when Rafael was out of the way. Only when he dies in Australia, does his grandson, Joe, see the tattooed number on his arm. Joe is learning singing and feels that his voice is robotic, but finding out more about his grandfather and then finding a song written by him and his friend in the ghetto, inspires him to sing with love and compassion.
Fran Knight

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