Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Review for Exile Music by Jennifer Steil

Exile Music

publication: May 5th 2020 by Viking

Based on an unexplored slice of World War II history, Exile Music is the captivating story of a young Jewish girl whose family flees refined and urbane Vienna for safe harbor in the mountains of Bolivia

As a young girl growing up in Vienna in the 1930s, Orly has an idyllic childhood filled with music. Her father plays the viola in the Philharmonic, her mother is a well-regarded opera singer, her beloved and charismatic older brother holds the neighborhood in his thrall, and most of her eccentric and wonderful extended family live nearby. Only vaguely aware of Hitler's rise or how her Jewish heritage will define her family's identity, Orly spends her days immersed in play with her best friend and upstairs neighbor, Anneliese. Together they dream up vivid and elaborate worlds, where they can escape the growing tensions around them.

My Thoughts…
World War II was such a horrific time to live through.  The war was going on, you never knew where you were safe, and you had to rely on other people for everything from food to shelter to clothing.   Now imagine that as a young girl.   Orly is that girl.   She is young, she lives an ideal life with her parents and brother with her best friend living in the apartment above her.  Until it all changes.   

Orly’s story was so interesting.   I was invested in the world she was living in.  The story told not only of what was happening around her but also what was happening directly in her house and her emotions to those happenings.    I could feel her joy in writing the stories of the make believe world with Anneliese, the fear of seeing the Nazi’s invade her neighborhood, the sadness at losing the things that were most familiar to her, and mostly her strength in not knowing what her future held but having to keep her head up, staying strong.      She experienced a life that many did not survive, and she knew how lucky she was that she and her parents were able to be together through it all.   

I am a World War II fan, it is my favorite era to read about.   Jennifer Steil has written an amazing book telling the story of a time where everything was different and the world was a scary place to live.  Yet, with the scariness, there is hope, love, and music.  

Add Exile Music to your MUST-READ list on Goodreads
Purchase your own copy on Amazon or Barnes and Noble

Jennifer Steil is the author of two previous books, The Woman Who Fell from the Sky, a memoir of her experience as a journalist in Yemen, and The Ambassador's Wife, a novel about a hostage crisis that was also inspired by Steil's own experience. She currently lives in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, with her husband and daughter.  Visit her website. 

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