Ecco, 2012 (2012)
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Reviewed by Barbara Lingens
uring World War I, about 2200 German prisoners were interred in a camp in North Carolina. Most were civilians, crew members from commercial ships who sought refuge in America. Among them were orchestra members. These facts form the basis for a raw and beautifully written story,
by Ron Rash.
n a lonely small town where meanness seems to be a way of life, two young siblings who have lost their parents must ward off the townspeople's certainty that the sister's birthmark means she is a witch. Only an old neighbor and their own willingness to work hard on their land keep them from complete despair. Into this desolate situation comes a hauntingly lovely song played by a wounded and mute stranger. When Laurel, the sister, brings him home, Hank, her brother, just returned from the war, has a hard time believing this is a good thing. But Walter gradually finds ways of being useful, and they surely can use an extra hand.
espite the siblings' remote location, which is beautifully detailed, word of Walter's existence gets out. When this happens we learn exactly what fear and prejudice can do to honesty and kindness. This poignant story evokes a very real but far-off place and time that resonates today as well. Highly recommended.
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