A violin and a middle-school musical unleash a dark family secret in this moving story by an award-winning author duo. For fans of The Devil's Arithmetic and Hana's Suitcase.
It's 2002. In the aftermath of the Twin Towers - and the death of her beloved grandmother - Shirli Berman is intent on moving forward. The best singer in her junior high, she auditions for the lead role in Fiddler on the Roof but is crushed to learn that she's been given the part of the old Jewish mother in the musical rather than the coveted part of the sister. But there is an upside: Her "husband" is none other than Ben Morgan, the cutest and most popular boy in the school.
Deciding to throw herself into the role, she rummages in her grandfather's attic for some props. There, she discovers an old violin in the corner - strange, since her Zayde has never seemed to like music, never even going to any of her recitals. Showing it to her grandfather unleashes an anger in him she has never seen before, and while she is frightened of what it might mean, Shirli keeps trying to connect with her Zayde and discover the awful reason behind his anger. A long-kept family secret spills out, and Shirli learns the true power of music, both terrible and wonderful.
What the critics say
"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." (Kirkus Reviews, starred)
"Walters and Kacer pull of this impressive feat of complex storytelling and make it look easy.... [It is an] honest, open and unflinching [story] about some of the more dark and traumatic aspects of history." (Quill & Quire, starred)
One of Kirkus Reviews' Best Middle Grade Books of 2019
One of the Globe and Mail’s 100 Books that Shaped 2019
One of Quill and Quire's Honorable Mentions for 2019 Books of the Year for Young People
One of CBC Books Best Canadian YA and Middle Grade Books of 2019
Why Audiobooks Are Great for Teens Who Don’t Have Time to Read