The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner
Published: March 2020 – Flatiron Books
Digital Ebook courtesy of the publisher and NetGalley
As Nazi soldiers round up the Jews in their town, Róza and her 5-year-old daughter, Shira, flee, seeking shelter in a neighbor’s barn. Hidden in the hayloft day and night, Shira struggles to stay still and quiet, as music pulses through her and the farmyard outside beckons. To soothe her daughter and pass the time, Róza tells her a story about a girl in an enchanted garden:
The girl is forbidden from making a sound, so the yellow bird sings. He sings whatever the girl composes in her head: high-pitched trills of piccolo; low-throated growls of contrabassoon. Music helps the flowers bloom.
In this make-believe world, Róza can shield Shira from the horrors that surround them. But the day comes when their haven is no longer safe, and Róza must make an impossible choice: whether to keep Shira by her side or give her the chance to survive apart.
Inspired by the true stories of Jewish children hidden during World War II, Jennifer Rosner’s debut is a breathtaking novel about the unbreakable bond between a mother and a daughter. Beautiful and riveting, The Yellow Bird Sings is a testament to the triumph of hope—a whispered story, a bird’s song—in even the darkest of times. (publisher)
My take: Having already experienced unimaginable loss Róza and Shira find shelter in a barn. It’s a challenge to expect a young child of five to live almost silently but Róza finds a way. When it seems inevitable they’ll be discovered Róza sends Shira to the safety of a convent. She hopes to find her when the war is over. I couldn’t imagine being forced to do this, yet there was no other choice. As you might imagine The Yellow Bird Sings is an emotional story of loss, separation, survival and moving forward during the most desperate times. Jennifer Rosner’s tale moved me to tears more than once. I loved the theme of music woven throughout the novel. For me it added emotional depth and I listened to a few of the works mentioned after turning the last page, feeling those emotions a second time. Recommended to fans of World War II historical fiction.