Kass’s novel is a moving tribute, inspired by her mother’s survival of the Holocaust, to the endurance of family, faith, and culture set in eastern Poland during WWII, when both German and Russian forces ravaged the region. The narrative begins in 1943, when Tasa, a gifted Jewish violinist, and her family make a breathtaking escape from the encroaching Nazis as their quiet village becomes the front line of battles between German and Soviet soldiers. Events then rewind to 1933, as Tasa is about to embark on her studies at a Catholic school. The signs of political trouble in Germany quickly begin to intrude on the young musician—and news of Jews becoming isolated and marginalized forces Tasa’s family to take stock of their increasing vulnerability. When Tasa’s mother is deported to a Soviet work camp, Tasa’s world crumbles, and she takes solace in her music and her love for her cousin Danik. Then the narrative returns to 1943 and the hurried nightlong trek to the home of a Catholic neighbor willing to make an “incomprehensible sacrifice” to hide a Jewish family. The occasionally uneven pacing does little to blunt the impact of a memorable tale of unflinching courage in the face of war—and the power of love and beauty to flourish amid its horrors. (May)
Reviewed on: 07/17/2017 Release date: 05/01/2016 Genre: Fiction
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