Don’t read this book.
Listen to it.
It would be positively criminal to read a print copy of Echo when such a stunning audio version exists. Even if you’ve never tried an audio book, even if you swear it doesn’t count as real reading, get off your high horse and just try it. Your mind will be changed in the first half hour.
The performances by the four readers are amazing, but what puts the production over the top is the seamless incorporation of music from start to finish. Before anything else, Echo is a book about music. I can guarantee you there’s no comparison between reading a printed reference to “Some Enchanted Evening” and hearing it performed by a professional orchestra. And that blues harmonica duet? Get outta town. In print, you only get half the story.
Admittedly, half the story is still really damn good. There are actually four strands to the plot, told one at a time until the very end, when they come together in a beautiful (dare I say harmonious?) way. Each character has a discrete story that could stand on its own, but all four of them are linked through time and distance by a harmonica. Don’t question it—just go with it. That’s the beauty of middle grade literature; you can start with a humble harmonica and end up with a symphony.
This is my feel-good book of the year. Listen to it in the car with the whole family next time you go on a road trip. Listen to it in your kitchen as you make dinner. Listen to it as a pick-me-up when you’re feeling sad.
Just please, please, please—listen to it.