cover image The Color of Sound

The Color of Sound

Emily Barth Isler. Carolrhoda, $19.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-7284-8777-9

A talented tween with synesthesia probes her Jewish family’s history in this sonorous tale by Isler (AfterMath), who contemplates the generational trauma caused by the Holocaust. Twelve-year-old “musical genius” Golden Rose Solomon, who experiences sounds “as textures and colors, as feelings and temperatures and tastes,” longs to cultivate a part of her identity beyond “the girl with the violin.” To the frustration of her rigid mother, Shanna, Rosie goes on a music strike, forgoing symphony commitments. As punishment, she’s forced to join her mom on a visit to the dying grandmother Rosie barely knows. At Shanna’s childhood home, Rosie “somehow, magically, impossibly” meets a 12-year-old version of Shanna, who longs to play violin and resents her mother—Rosie’s grandmother—for forcing her to become a bat mitzvah. From Shanna, Rosie learns that her great-grandmother survived Auschwitz, an experience that echoes through future mother-daughter relationships in her family, making Rosie wonder whether changing the past could help Shanna understand her, and help revitalize her own connection with music. Intricately entwining interpersonal growth with each character’s relationship to their Jewish faith and culture, Isler highlights the role of family history in identity formation through metaphorical time travel. Color-centric imagery rendered in immersive prose translates Rosie’s synesthesia in this salient celebration of family, music, and neurodiversity. Ages 11–14. Agent: Emily Keyes, Keyes Agency. (Mar.)