Rosner’s exquisite, heart-rending debut novel is proof that there’s always going to be room for another story about World War II ... This is an absolutely beautiful and necessary novel, full of heartbreak but also hope, about the bond between mother and daughter, and the sacrifices made for love.
In Shira and Róza, Rosner captures two souls in turmoil, chronicling their grief as well as their strength of will to overcome, their longings and even surprising triumphs. Through the language of music and memory, Rosner thoughtfully composes a life for Róza and Shira that is safe and beautiful until it is shattered ... The Yellow Bird Sings keeps your heart in your throat, your eyes pricked with tears. Rosner excels at illustrating the nostalgic pull of a certain melody, a scrap of blanket, the smell of a loved one, a recipe with eggs. When their shelter is threatened, Róza and Shira must fly, as birds do, with only the bond of their hearts to connect them ... The little light that shines in this terrible darkness—the precious little hope that anchors Róza’s and Shira’s souls—is very bright.
... profoundly moving ... a beautiful and deeply resonant depiction of the enduring, eternal connection between parent and child. Through unforgettable characters and a gripping, multi-layered plot, Rosner shows how both silence and music can become symbols of hope and survival ... Rosner has a keen ability to elicit heart-wrenching emotion through her simple yet luminescent writing. With vivid, descriptive prose that provides insight into both Shira's and her mother's desperation, the author gives readers a sense of physically being in the barn with the two. Despite the World War II setting, Róza's terror, guilt and shame--palpable on the page--become universally recognizable to anyone who has ever felt responsible for a child ... Rosner honors that truth through this exquisite tale, one that demonstrates how words and song have a timeless power to keep loved ones connected and their voices alive through generations.
The Yellow Bird Sings, is an easy read, exciting at times, but not a literary hard-hitter, like some other novels set during WWII ... Still readers will have empathy for Róża and Shira, and admire Róża’s courage and persistence as she faces life without her daughter, releasing her to save her, like a bird freed from a cage.
Music conveys Shira’s somber nostalgia in a way Ms. Rosner cannot do with pure description ... The bird is an interesting feature in Shira’s life in the barn, but ... Ms. Rosner’s use of the bird feels forced once Shira doesn’t have to keep quiet anymore. The bird trope still offers a vehicle to express Shira’s inner monologue, but it remains frustratingly simple and doesn’t develop even as Shira’s circumstances change ... Even through...beautiful details, however, the characters come across as one-dimensional. Ms. Rosner understands the horrors of the Holocaust, but her story doesn’t always convey the complexity of tragedy — her characters’ emotions are unnaturally stagnant ... Ms. Rosner’s debut novel...is satisfying and sweet, but adds little new perspective to the vast Holocaust literary genre.
Memoirist and award-winning children’s author Rosner challenges the Holocaust with a touch of magic (the yellow bird appears throughout), clarifying a dangerous time and place even as she offers a vibrant, affecting portrait of the mother-daughter relationship.
... a World War II story with a Room-like twist, one that also deftly examines the ways in which art and imagination can sustain us ... Rosner builds the tension as the novel progresses, wisely moving the action out of the barn before the premise grows tired or repetitive. This is a Holocaust novel, but it’s also an effective work of suspense, and Rosner’s understanding of how art plays a role in our lives, even at the worst of times, is impressive ... A mother and her child-prodigy daughter struggle to survive the Holocaust by telling stories and remembering the power of music.
... moving if unsurprising ... Rosner is at her best in the book’s earliest sections, as she conveys Róża’s efforts to balance comfort for Shira with the need to keep their presence in the barn a secret ... Rosner switches between points of view to craft a wrenching chronicle of their separate journeys, though the conclusion suffers from schmaltz. This will offer few surprises to avid readers of Holocaust fiction.