Okay, I haven’t been reading Pam Munoz (PLEASE imagine the tilde over the “n”!) Ryan’s Echo for a year, precisely, but it was a Newbery Honor book for 2016, so I’ve had it checked out of the library for that long. My friend Andrea picked it for our book club as well, which means I’ve officially killed two birds with one stone, so to speak. Wahoo!
More than that, however, I’ve managed to finish a book that took me more than a month to read ONLY because of my current stage of life. It did have 588 pages, yes, but the font wasn’t small and it flowed rapidly. I just can’t concentrate when the kiddos are awake, and I have too much to do when they’re asleep. (To be fair, I also finished off some graphic novel-ly books in that month because I did manage to concentrate on those during the day, but still.) Stages of life pass, however, and I have to say–Echo held up to the ickiness of reading in very small snatches better than most. Really, it’s more three books in one than anything else; three different characters, in totally different settings, are connected to each other by a very special harmonica. Friedrich finds it in Germany in 1933; Mike buys it in Pennsylvania in 1935; Ivy receives it in California in 1942. The three share a gift for music and a dedication to family–and the necessity of facing down serious challenges in their lives.
Thankfully, Andrea warned me that there is NO RESOLUTION WHATSOEVER until all three stories have been mostly told–until then, we’re left with cliffhangers that rival West Wing‘s first season finale. The ending, however, weaves all three stories together into a satisfying conclusion. Interestingly enough, my college classmate/teacher/librarian friend Abbie didn’t like the three cliffhangers in a row as much as she wanted to, while my one complaint was with the ending. Having been warned, I found that the cliffhangers sort of worked for me (which isn’t to say that they aren’t cruel!); the ending, however, while satisfying, ties up so much in such a short amount of time that it felt a bit tell-not-show. I hesitate to say that a 588-page book should have been longer, but I wouldn’t have minded if Ryan had spent more time with the weaving at the end; on the other hand, that didn’t stop my thorough enjoyment of the book. (It’s more of a technical critique.) At the end of the day, it’s a fabulous book that I’d recommend to just about anyone.