Tuesday, June 17, 2014

The Keeper of Secrets by Julie Thomas

In The Keeper of Secrets, child violin prodigy Daniel Horowitz has decided that he's not going to play the violin anymore unless his parents also allow him to play baseball with his friends. World renowned conductor, Rafael Gomez, who understands Daniel's feelings, develops a plan to inspire Daniel. He's determined to find a violin that once belonged to the Horowitz family. It's not just any violin. It's a precious Guarneri del GesĂș violin, which was lost to the Germans during WWII. His plan takes the reader on a heartbreaking trip from modern-day Chicago, to the horrors of Dachau, and to the leaders and rules in communist Russia.

I loved this book. The story was absolutely wonderful. It was filled with details about music, politics, families, secrets, survival and courage. The characters were fantastic, even the ones that were hard to read about. I especially loved how the story looped back and came full circle.

The book also contained a fascinating look into Russia, the Party and its leaders. All stuff that was pretty new to me, but I found it intriguing. The information about the concentration camps during WWII was horrific, while the details about the violins, how they are made, and how they sounded was all wonderful. I loved all of the references to music and keep thinking about how magnificent the soundtrack would be should the book be made into a movie.

There was one particular passage from the book that resonated with me. There was a conversation between Daniel and the maestro that talked about learning a new piece of music.
...it's in two languages, first the language of the brain, all the notes in the right order and the timing and the key and so on and so on. Then second, the language of the heart. This distinction, it is what separates all musicians. (page 20)
As a very mediocre flutist, I related to this passage.  I could learn all of the notes and such, but relating a "feeling" or learning that second "language" as a musician eluded me.  

I had reservations about reading this book at first because I thought that some of the details would be too hard for me to handle. And indeed, some of them were. Near the end of the book, I had to put it down for a few days before reading the ending. It was just too much. I don't want to give too much of the story away, but the ending made the whole book worth the read. I was glad that I didn't shy away from it despite the extremely heartbreaking parts.

Highly recommended. I'd definitely read another book by this author.

For more information about this book, please visit the HarperCollins website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at William Morrow/HarperCollins for this review copy.

The Keeper of Secrets by Julie Thomas, William Morrow (HarperCollins), ©2013. ISBN 9780062240309 (Trade paperback), 358p.

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