If you haven’t heard about Sonia’s Song by Sonia Korn-Grimani (pictured to your right) yet, then here’s another chance! She has written a book mostly about her childhood surviving the Holocaust, and she has a copy to giveaway for my readers (or you can choose her music CD if you already have her book). Please leave a comment below for a chance to win the book by Sunday night, October 28 at 8:00 pm CST.
Also, if you haven’t had a chance to go to my VIRTUAL ONLINE BOOK PARTY for my middle-grade historical fiction novel, Finding My Place, yet, please pop over there when you finish this post. Here’s the link: http://margodill.com/blog/2012/10/24/party-day-finding-my-place/
Sonia’s Song: A book review
“Sonia’s Song” is the story of Sonia Korn-Grimani, an internationally known singer in the 1960s and 70s, as a Jewish child growing up during the Holocaust. The memoir mostly focuses on her childhood, as her parents, both Polish and Jewish, attempted to keep their family together and alive during World War II.
What makes this book different or standout from other Holocaust books? It is told in first person, Sonia’s viewpoint, and she writes it as if she is now experiencing it. She uses present tense to describe events such as watching soldiers torment Jewish men, escaping to an orphanage, and missing her mother and father, whom she was often separated from to keep her safe.
She begins the book, telling the reader about her family: her mother, her father, and her brother, Heini, who is two years older than her. She begins with this sentence: “I stand three feet six inches tall when I am declared an enemy of the German state.” She was eight years old when this happened.
She goes on to write, “My brother and mother are also labeled German enemies. . . There was no need to label my father as an enemy: he was declared stateless three years ago—the first step toward nonexistence.”
She then goes back to explain to the reader the atmosphere in Germany before the war actually began and to introduce her once happy family. Then she shows how her world unraveled as Hitler took over and anti-Semitic messages ruled their world.
Most of what Korn-Grimani writes in the first three-fourths of the book is not new information—especially to people who’ve read several World War II or Holocaust accounts; but her writing style is easy and captivating. Because she introduces her family first and shares old photos throughout the beginning, readers get to know them and care what happens—almost like reading a novel.
Also, readers of Sonia’s Song are faced with the fact they are encountering the story of a young girl and her brother escaping the Nazis, and how terrifying and hopeless this time must have been for their parents and them. If you are a parent reading this book, you can understand the desperation Sonia’s mother feels to keep her children safe from the Nazis and why she makes the difficult decisions she has to make.
One of the most captivating sections of the memoir is when Korn-Grimani and her brother must live in a French orphanage, pretending to be Catholic, to save themselves from being round-up by the Nazis and sent to concentration camps or killed. The woman who owned and ran the orphanage kept the children safe, but they often went to bed hungry with no heat in their room during the winter and clothes that didn’t fit. They went to mass and learned Catholic traditions. Korn-Grimani’s mother visited her there twice a month, and eventually, her mother and father came to get her brother and her after two years, and the war ended.
The last part of the book shows how this child who underwent so much lived on to be a singer, wife, mother, and grandmother. She somehow overcame all the hardships of her childhood, and she praises music for helping her deal with life’s difficulties.
Sonia’s Song is a wonderful memoir; although at times dealing with a difficult subject matter, it provides readers with a sense of hope and perseverance. It also shows how music truly has a healing quality.