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BROKEN STRINGS by Eric Walters Kirkus Star


by Eric Walters & Kathy Kacer

Pub Date: Sept. 10th, 2019
ISBN: 978-0-73526-624-7
Publisher: Puffin/Penguin Random House Canada

Zayde’s memories profoundly affect his young granddaughter.

In the aftermath of 9/11, the school’s annual musical is to be Fiddler on the Roof, because its themes resonate. Eighth grader Shirli is a very talented singer and actor who is disappointed to be given the lead part of Tevye’s wife, Golde, who has no solo. She believes that her beloved grandfather can help her research background for the play, although she knows almost nothing of his past. Zayde has never allowed any form of music in his home, and when Shirli finds an old, damaged violin in the attic, it causes him great pain. As the play begins to take over Shirli’s life, she shares it all with Zayde, who finds he is able to recount bits of their family history. His mother barely survived the pogroms in Russia. When he was a child, he played violin in his family’s klezmer band. And then came the Holocaust and the hell that was Auschwitz, where he lost them all and was forced to play music as his fellow Jews went to the gas chambers. Shirli’s voice is true and strong as she narrates her own tale of rehearsals, her very ethnically diverse friendships, her deep distress as she witnesses Zayde’s pain, and her joy as he reconnects with his music.

A beautiful, painful, heartfelt reminder that the past is with us still.

(authors’ note, acknowledgements) (Fiction. 10-14)