3 out of 4 stars
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Hertz is growing up in Berlin during the height of World War II. His parents are not supporters of the Nazi party, and the family is just trying to live and to survive the terrible times. Hertz's father plays the violin professionally, and he teaches his technique to his young son. It is not until the war leaves Hertz and his sister orphaned that Hertz truly begins to appreciate the power of music and the ability he has to create some beauty in a world of chaos.
Father's Violin by John Hope is a young adult novel. It is historical fiction for the fact that it relates real events that occurred after World War II ended. It details what happened when the Soviets and Americans occupied Berlin. It is also, at its core, a story about art and music and the interconnectedness of all people.
This is a beautiful book with lots of lessons and tidbits for readers to take away. I really enjoyed this story. It was short and concise with a sufficient amount of plot for its length. There was good use of flashbacks to depict Hertz's life before the war ended juxtaposed with his present-day situation in the aftermath of the war.
My favorite part of this novel was the way the author used music as a way to connect the characters. I found the underlying messages simple and beautiful. I also enjoyed that this book showed a side of Germany not too often portrayed in World War II stories. There was an emphasis on the regular citizens who were not part of the Nazi party but still suffered the consequences that the war brought about for them after the fact. I realize that from the perspectives of the main characters in this book, the Soviets and sometimes the Americans are considered the bad guys. However, this was probably my least favorite part of the book. It felt a little one-sided in its execution. There may be a lot of historical accuracy, but I didn't like the way certain characters were vilified throughout the book.
Overall, this was a great novel that can be enjoyed by both young and old readers. It seemed professionally edited, and I only noticed a couple of minor editing errors. I give this book 3 out of 4 stars. It is a well-developed story and kept my attention. The only reason I'm reluctant to give it four stars is because of the one-sidedness of the story. I would recommend it to young readers for its life lessons and to older readers who are interested in novels about music or World War II. It is a short but sweet tale that I'm sure will linger in your mind for awhile after reading it.
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