National Jewish Book Award Finalist
"Rosner’s exquisite, heart-rending debut novel is proof that there’s always going to be room for another story about World War II....This is an absolutely beautiful and necessary novel, full of heartbreak but also hope, about the bond between mother and daughter, and the sacrifices made for love." —The New York Times
In Poland, as World War II rages, a mother hides with her young daughter, a musical prodigy whose slightest sound may cost them their lives.
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.
Rosner's moving if unsurprising debut novel (after the memoir If a Tree Falls) follows a mother and daughter's struggles to survive the Holocaust. In 1941, after Jewish R a's parents and husband are killed by the Nazis in Poland, she finds refuge for herself and her daughter, five-year-old Shira, in the barn of Henryk and his wife, Krystyna, gentiles who had patronized her family bakery, though R a is only able to extend their stay by sleeping with Henryk. Rosner is at her best in the book's earliest sections, as she conveys R a's efforts to balance comfort for Shira with the need to keep their presence in the barn a secret. R a cleverly enlists Shira's cooperation in keeping quiet by spinning stories of a young girl and a yellow bird that can voice the musical compositions written by the child. After a year of shelter, Nazi troops tell Henryk they will appropriate the barn, and R a reluctantly consents to a plan crafted by Krystyna for her and Shira to escape separately. With Shira hidden in a convent and R a fleeing through the snow-covered woods, Rosner switches between points of view to craft a wrenching chronicle of their separate journeys, though the conclusion suffers from schmaltz. This will offer few surprises to avid readers of Holocaust fiction.
Without words..only tears
Riveting. Would have loved more at the end. Nice change from some of Holocaust books read. Zosia/ shira sooo talented.a few loose ends even with Roza. But all in all enjoyable
This beautifully written story will stay with long after you finish reading it. The strong bond between mother and daughter can’t be broken by time nor circumstances. The author skillfully pulls you into the story in a way that you feel you are part of it. You smell the smells and hear the music as if you are there. You feel the weariness and pain deep in your bones. Even though this is a work of fiction, the sad reality is that it could be written about events that truly happened.
Touching mother/daughter story
Poignant book about mother/daughter relationships. Love and lengths we go to for those we cherish the most are explored all throughout this book. It’s a different take on WWII and the holocaust.