Sunday, March 30, 2014

Book Review: Sing For Me

Sing for MeAuthor: Karen Halvorsen Schreck
Publication Date: April 1, 2014
Publisher: Howard Books

When a good church girl starts singing in a jazz club and falls for the music—as well as a handsome African American man—she struggles to reconcile her childhood faith with her newfound passions.

Raised in the Danish Baptist Church, Rose Sorensen knows it’s wrong to sing worldly songs. But Rose still yearns for those she hears on the radio—“Cheek to Cheek,” “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”—and sings them when no one is around. 

One day, Rose’s cousin takes her to Calliope’s, a jazz club, where she dis­covers an exciting world she never knew existed. Here, blacks and whites mingle, brought together by their shared love of music. And though Rose wor­ries it’s wrong—her parents already have a stable husband in mind for her—she can’t stop thinking about the African American pianist of the Chess Men, Theo Chastain. When Rose returns to the jazz club, she is offered the role of singer for the Chess Men. The job would provide money to care for her sister, Sophy, who has cerebral palsy—but at what cost? 

As Rose gets to know Theo, their fledgling relationship faces prejudices she never imagined. And as she struggles to balance the dream world of Calliope’s with her cold, hard reality, she also wrestles with God’s call for her life. Can she be a jazz singer? Or will her faith suffer because of her worldly ways? 

Set in Depression-era Chicago and rich in historical detail, Sing for Me is a beautiful, evocative story about finding real, unflinching love and embracing—at all costs—your calling.

How can he be so brave, bold, so foolish, so familiar? How can I be so glad that he is all these things, and surely more?

Minutes later, I’m a different girl. A girl Dad would call a tramp. A girl I’d avoid if I saw her on the street.

I could sing. I could make money doing that. This flashes through my mind unbidden.

This book offered a storyline/plot that is somewhat different than the things I am normally drawn to. I am always up for something different, and this book offered just that. The setting is Chicago in the 1930’s, mid depression. Rose Sorensen, our passionate heroine, finds herself between a rock and a hard place. She is loves to sing types of music that she knows her family and the people of the church she was raised in would not approve of, and she finds herself in love with an African American man named Theo. Rose is not doing any of this to rebel against her parents or her church. In fact Rose is just the opposite, she is strong in her values and in her faith. She feels that she has a calling that is pulling her in the opposite direction that her parents may have wanted her to go, but can be strong enough within herself to make the right choice? Even if it means making a daring, bold move?

The part of this story that interested me the most would have to be Rose and Theo’s relationship. I will just say what everyone else is already thinking – they are involved in an interracial relationship at a time in history when prejudices were running at an all-time high. I enjoyed their relationship because it slowly developed over time, and was not a quick rollercoaster ride. I also enjoyed reading about their connection because of all the challenges they faced, and it was inspiring to follow them and see how each character grew in love and faith when it came to each other.

Another relationship that I very much admired in this book was Rose’s relationship with her younger sister, Sophy. I am an only child, so of course I am drawn to the bonding of sisters in any book I read. There are several genuinely sweet and intimate moments shared between Rose and Sophy. They are the epitome of what a sister is supposed to be. They share their darkest secrets and look to each other as comfort and security in dark times. They are truly best friends and make this book worth reading a hundred times more!

***A free copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers at Howard Books in exchange for my honest review***

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