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Tasa’s Song by Linda Kass

Source: Caitlin Hamilton Marketing & Publicity and She Writes Press
Paperback, 256 pgs.
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Tasa’s Song by Linda Kass, BRONZE WINNER, IPPY AWARD for HISTORICAL FICTION, is a concerto built on the jarring experiences of young violinist Tasa Rosinski in war-torn Poland during WWII.  Poland has changed hands many times before and does so again during the war, a war that many never expected to get as far as it did. As a young girl, she’s sent for additional schooling in Brody with her cousin Danik, but even as she enjoys school, she sees how the townspeople begin to treat their Jewish neighbors.  As fear creeps along the streets, Tasa softens the sharp edges with her violin, practicing music and losing herself in its timbres.

“In conveying the complicated history of Poland, Tasa’s schoolteacher used Podkamien as an example when she said you could live and die in one spot and occupy four different countries, because this part of Poland was constantly being invaded and carved up, then ‘liberated’ by somebody.” (pg. 15)

Tasa’s Jewish family is well liked by the townspeople of Podkamien because her father invested in the town, even as his family’s wealth grew.  He helped bring electricity and infrastructure to the village, making the lives of others better.  When the Nazis move on Poland and it is caught in between them and the Soviets, her family is able to escape for the most part with the help of non-Jewish families.  However, the tensions in the village are immediate, and the fear of being discovered can be difficult to live with.  Tasa, however, finds strength in her memories of her encouraging grandfather and her supportive mother, but also in her music, which provides her an escape from fear and loss.  She’s a strong young woman, and her strength helps others to keep going.

Tasa’s Song by Linda Kass demonstrates the tension within families at a time when there is so much uncertainty, and it illustrates the changing tides in just one nation during WWII.  Being Jewish in Europe during WWII was dangerous, and while luck can be with you, that luck also can turn out to be a bad omen.  This is a story of growing up in war, but also of learning to navigate uncertainty and reach into the future for something better without losing hope or the memory of those left behind, many in unmarked graves.

RATING: Quatrain

About the Author:

Linda Kass wrote for regional and national publications, including Columbus Monthly, TIME and The Detroit Free Press, early in her career as a journalist. TASA’S SONG, her debut novel, is inspired by her mother’s life in eastern Poland during the Second World War.

Linda lives in Columbus, Ohio, where she is a strong advocate of education, literacy, and the arts. Her past experience as a trustee and board chair of the Columbus Symphony Orchestra fed into much of the music that fills the pages of TASA’S SONG. Linda enjoys long distance road cycling and rides in an annual event to support cancer research.

Mailbox Monday #361

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

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Tasa’s Song by Linda Kass for review from Caitlin Hamilton Marketing & Publicity.

1943. Tasa Rosinski and five relatives, all Jewish, escape their rural village in eastern Poland avoiding certain death and find refuge in a bunker beneath a barn built by their longtime employee.

A decade earlier, ten-year-old Tasa dreams of someday playing her violin like Paganini. To continue her schooling, she leaves her family for a nearby town, joining older cousin Danik at a private Catholic academy where her musical talent flourishes despite escalating political tension. But when the war breaks out and the eastern swath of Poland falls under Soviet control, Tasa’s relatives become Communist targets, her new tender relationship is imperiled, and the family’s secure world unravels.

From a peaceful village in eastern Poland to a partitioned post-war Vienna, from a promising childhood to a year living underground, Tasa’s Song celebrates the enduring power of the human spirit.”

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Mailbox Monday #359

Mailbox Monday, created by Marcia at To Be Continued, formerly The Printed Page, has a permanent home at its own blog.

To check out what everyone has received over the last week, visit the blog and check out the links.  Leave yours too.

Also, each week, Leslie, Vicki, and I will share the Books that Caught Our Eye from everyone’s weekly links.

Here’s what I received:

The California Wife by Kristen Harnisch from Caitlin Hamilton Marketing & Publicity.

It is 1897, and Sara and Philippe Lemieux, newly married and full of hope for the future, are determined to make Eagle’s Run, their Napa vineyard, into a world-renowned winemaking operation. But the swift arrival of the 20th century brings a host of obstacles they never dreamed of: price wars and the twin threats of phylloxera and prohibition endanger the success of their business, and the fiercely independent Sara is reluctant to leave the fields behind for the new and strange role of wife and mother.

An invitation to the World’s Fair in 1900 comes just in time to revive the vineyard’s prospects, and amid the jewel-coloured wonders of Belle epoque Paris, Sara and Philippe’s passion is rekindled as well. But then family tragedy strikes, and, upon their return to California, a secret from Philippe’s past threatens to derail their hard-won happiness in one stroke.

Sara gains an ally when Marie Chevreau, her dear friend, arrives in San Francisco as the first female surgery student to be admitted to prestigious Cooper Medical College. Through Marie, Sara gets a glimpse of the glittering world of San Francisco’s high society, and she also forges friendships with local women’s rights advocates, inciting new tensions in her marriage. Philippe issues Sara an ultimatum: will she abandon the struggle for freedom to protect her family’s winemaking business, or will she ignore Philippe and campaign for a woman’s right to vote and earn a fair wage?

Fate has other plans in store in the spring of 1906, which brings with it a challenge unlike any other that the Lemieux family or their fellow Northern Californians have ever faced.

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