Fourteen-year-old Lisa is a musical prodigy; her piano playing brings listeners to tears. But suddenly no one will teach her. The Nazis are now in Vienna, and anti-Jewish laws have been enacted. Lisa’s parents make the difficult decision to send her on a kindertransport to London, where she will be safe. Eventually Lisa settles in a home for refugee children — that happens to have a piano. Lisa’s hard work and focus enable her to bring her sister to safety in England. Her playing helps give all the children courage, and eventually leads to an audition and a scholarship to a prestigious music program.
This is a true story (written by the protagonist’s daughter) of a young girl trying to fulfill her parents’ dreams for her. The writing is vivid; you can almost hear the soundtrack in the sections where Lisa is playing her beloved piano. Lisa is an appealing character who rings true; she’s neither naively optimistic, nor utterly despairing — her reaction to VE Day is heartbreaking. Lisa’s ultimate triumph over circumstances, added to the fact that the story is set in relatively safe England, makes the book accessible to a wider audience than most with this subject matter. It’s an excellent addition to WWII refugee stories.
Recommended for ages 8 to 12.