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What the Night Sings
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What the Night Sings

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,098 ratings  ·  267 reviews
A teen Holocaust survivor, must come to terms with who she is and how to rebuild her life.

After losing her family and everything she knew in the Nazi concentration camps, Gerta is finally liberated, only to find herself completely alone. Without her Papa, her music, or even her true identity, she must move past the task of surviving and onto living her life. In the displac
Audio CD
Published February 20th 2018 by Listening Library
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Vesper Stamper I remember learning about the Holocaust for the first time in 7th grade. I don't remember much of what I learned in school beyond the basic facts:…moreI remember learning about the Holocaust for the first time in 7th grade. I don't remember much of what I learned in school beyond the basic facts: that 6 million died; that there was a place called Auschwitz; that people were gassed and burned. There was an added complication for me, though: having been born in Germany, several of my classmates pointed this out and began making fun of me for it, calling me a "Nazi." Obviously, being raised in a Jewish family, you can imagine this was pretty confusing to me. I remember feeling incredibly trapped, with no answers, and crying in the bathroom.(less)

Community Reviews

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4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,098 ratings  ·  267 reviews

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Amy Yingling
I really enjoyed reading this book because it shows something not often shown in historical fiction, what happens after the event, in this book it is the Holocaust and even though you get a bit of the hardships that Greta faced in the camps the books main focus is really on how she goes on to live amongst so much devastation and unbearable grief in the aftermath of liberation. The simple, colorless drawings are amazing and fit the narrative and main character in this book so well and really add ...more
Mar 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Equally a love letter to the power of music as well as a Holocaust remembrance. Lyrical, evocative language is the real strength of this book, though the story itself is engaging, too, though horrific, because of what happened to the Jews, which it does not shy away from discussing. It's almost more poignant because the heartbreaking details are reported so matter-of-factory, while the hopes and dreams (if there are any left to have) are presented so magically, that that juxtaposition makes the ...more
Lyda Scudder
Feb 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Am I your friend? Then trust me, you want to read this book. Don't read it or buy it for the wonderful weight of paper or the font or the smell of ink. They are all wonderfully apt choices. Read it for the journey your heart will make with Gerta. Read it for remembering a piece of history too oft relegated to statistics and numbers too mind-boggling to comprehend. Read it to trace your own humanity.

This is not only good young adult fiction, it is good literature. The story is an immersive exper
Apr 09, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 stars for this book. I liked the illustrations that accompany the story but I felt the story fell flat in some points. The point of the book is how these characters are able to rebuild themselves after facing one of the worst tragedies any human could (Auschwitz concentration camp), but the author could have done a much thorough job on it. It was a fast read.

Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Stamper opens her Young Adult novel about survivors of the Holocaust with the liberation of Bergen-Belsen. Sixteen-year-old Gerta is skeletal and ill with typhus. She has survived the Camp by being a member of the Camp orchestra, playing her father’s viola. Taught to play by her father, the viola allows her to feel close to him—and it gives her comfort. However, her true love is singing. Unfortunately, the horrific conditions of her incarceration have damaged her vocal chords—perhaps forever.
Lauren Stoolfire
Apr 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hubchallenge19
A must read.
Jun 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This is a WWII Jewish survival story that uniquely begins when our heroine Gerta is “freed” from Auschwitz. What happens to the survivors of the concentration camps, and how they are treated by the allies after the end of the war is fresh information. Author Stamper does a remarkable job recreating the struggles, health issues, and residual bigotry the refugees faced. Decisions must be made about where to live, who to live with, and what to do with a faith that seemingly causes incredible grief ...more
Azita Rassi
My reaction to this book was very uneven. In parts, it went as high as giving it 4 stars and in parts as low as 2. Maybe if I were less familiar with this phase of history, it would have had a stronger grip on my imagination. For me, it felt like I could easily see the ribcage of the research through the diaphanous skin of the story. The most interesting aspect was that it dealt more with the survival & readjusting period than with the camp years, something that I had never seen in fiction ( ...more
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Awesome story!
Not part of the stories of the death camps that I have ever heard told about before but any survivors today, are old. The MCs in this story are teenagers. They have nothing but each other.

I especially liked the personal story shared in the Author's notes.

The narration was excellent!
Just holding this book in your hands is a delight to the senses. It has a firm heft to it, the cover is lined with brilliant blue paper, the pages are thick, and the smell of ink spills from it. But it's not just a pretty cover: the contents of this book are every bit as thrilling. Vesper Stamper's writing is elegantly spare. Every word is there for a reason. It is also silky smooth, delicate, and powerfully evocative. Her illustrations are also spare, filled with clean lines and delicate detail ...more
Melissa Rothman
Mar 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I received this book in a goodreads giveaway and WOW! The rawness in the book is heartbreaking but the truth is the hardcore truth, the holocaust is so well explained and the drawings are remarkable they show the bleeding lives, torture, and every day life that was lived with such ferocity! I loved this book be prepared for tears to shed and heartstrings to be not just pulled but yanked! I highly recommend this book to everyone its a strong but beautifully and truth filled book!
Hypable Books
Feb 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
Read our full review on Hypable!

What the Night Sings doesn’t feel like a rehash of the many other books of the genre. In fact, it feels so personal and accurately portrayed that it could almost be a true story.

Historically, music had a presence in many concentration camps during the Holocaust. Used both as an act of humiliation by the guards to the prisoners when forcing them to sing and chant during punishments, and in a more meaningful yet also tragic way: an act for survival.

I personally do n
”The stories of the living are all of one piece: a million colors along the same thread.”

This is what I wanted Between Shades of Gray and The German Girl to make me feel.

Ms. Yingling
Copy provided by the publisher

Gerta lives with her father, a viola player, and her step mother, who is a famous singer. For reasons she doesn't fully understand, she no longer goes to school, but is tutored at home. Eventually, her father stops going to work, and he and Gerta are sent to a concentration camp. The father manages to keep his viola, but it ends up in Gerta's care, which helps her to survive, since she plays in various prison orchestras. Her real love is singing, but the horrors of
Vivid, horrifying, and hopeful. This book really crawls inside you and becomes stuck in your soul. The illustrations are powerful and fit the story so well, wait, no, they actually are part of the storytelling, integral rather than decorative. Songs and snippets of other languages are present throughout. Story, poems, songs, illustrations are all combined to effectively communicate the story of just a few years in Gerta's life.


*edited to switch from the Audio CD (not sure how I orignal
Martha Schwalbe
Mar 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The artwork in this novel is the reason for five stars. It is really moving. I enjoyed a new take on life in a concentration camp, especially after the war.
I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy history.
Suzi Evelyn
Dec 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

So, this book is just another part of the reason why I wait until the first week of January to make “Best Books of Year Whatever” lists. I picked up this book because I’d seen it around a couple of times and the synopsis looked interesting, but mainly because I still have to complete my Goodreads challenge. UM well this book had me pausing every 5 pages because there are. So. Many. Powerful
Mar 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a hard look at the years following the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps. While it's difficult subject matter, it is touching and filled with hope. Gerta an Levi, even Michah and Maria, are beautiful characters, and even in the starkest of moments, they are a true joy to the reader. What the Night Sings frames everything true and right about humanity against its most vile and heartbreaking moments. A worthwhile read.
Nov 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
he was a good boi
Oct 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"What can a girl do who has refused to die?"

The blurb is true, if you liked The Book Thief or The Nightingale you will enjoy this book. This book starts off (thankfully) at the end of the Nazi occupation. It is told by a 16 year old girl that lived through all of those horrors, and is now faced with the challenge of moving forward and rebuilding a life. This is Gerta's story of who she was before, during and after life in a concentration camp.

This book incorporates illustrations throughout th
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really liked What the Night Sings. I really liked how it was set after the camp was freed with relevant flashbacks instead of about the time in the camp. The only thing that bothered me was how the Maria thing wasn't more developed.
Nov 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My favorite book this year.
Misty Wilson read.fine.print
I checked this book out from the library and fell in love with it so much, I ordered my own copy. I didn’t even read the synopsis before I started reading, so I don’t want to ruin anything about this World War 2 story for you. Here is a list of what makes this book so unique:

This book is heavy, the pages are thick. It’s why I was drawn to it the minute I saw it. The endpages are the bright blue of the cover’s butterfly, and swipe left for a peek at the hardback cover. The illustra
Sarah McElrath
Jun 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book is beautiful--haunting, but beautiful. The graphics (ink washes) add a depth to this Holocaust story.
A couple things that struck me -- and stick with me -- from this book:

The Music. Music carries the reader (and the narrator, Greta Rausch) through the horrors of Nazi Germany, through the labor camps, the death camps, and on through liberation. Greta's father is a violist, and Greta is training to be an opera singer. She plays instruments as well -- although not as good as her father.
May 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
WHAT THE NIGHT SINGS by Vesper Stamper is about a girl named Gerta who loses everything in Nazi concentration camps.

Gerta didn’t even know she was Jewish when the Nazis took her and her beloved father away. Papa had been so careful to keep their identity a secret. He was a wonderful violist and taught Gerta to play as well. In the camp, Gerta still has a passion for music --- and it’s probably what keeps her alive. She plays the viola and has a voice meant for the opera. After a long time of bei
Beth Anne
Oct 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Some things you do out of skill; some out of excitement. But some things you do out of brokenness." -- What the Night Sings
What the Night Sings by is a historical novel set primarily during the aftermath of World War II, and tells part of the story of Jews who survived the Holocaust. Stunning and poignant black and white illustrations are throughout, often spanning a full page spread and giving the reader a chance to pause and think. I was expecting a unique book based on the reviews and recom
Apr 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: holocaust
Gerta is a young girl in Prague when Hitler invades. She is kept insulated from the politics by her father and her stepmother/music teacher. Her father plays the viola and Gerta sings, and hopes one day to be as great a singer as her step mother. Eventually, the Nazis come for Gerta and her father, which bewilders Gerta, who has papers stating she is Aryan and has no knowledge that she is Jewish. She ends up with her father's viola, which gives her a tool with which she survives the concentratio ...more
Panda Incognito
This book tells the story of a Holocaust survivor. Although many similar books end with liberation of the concentration camps, this new YA novel delves into the history of what happened after. The main character's journey is incredibly moving, and the magnificent prose and illustrations bring the story to life. I never imagined that someone could release such a new and vital Holocaust book in 2018, but here it is.

This story is both specific and universal. It deals with the daily life challenges
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Winner of the 2019 Sydney Taylor Book Award
Morris Award Finalist
National Book Award Nominee
Golden Kite Honor Book
Vesper Stamper was born in Nuremberg, Germany and raised in New York City. Her family was an eclectic mix of engineers, musicians and artists who didn't think Voltaire too tough for bedtime reading, Chopin Valses too loud for wake-up calls, or precision slide rules too fragile as playth
“The limbs of a stand of birch tree hold up the forest's form like women's bones. This grove has a magnetic pull, beckoning toward a carpet of blue-green mosses where I long to lie on my back and sing into the leaves. But it is a place where bodies were stacked, and I don't want to make friends with trees that once hid the dead.” 1 likes
“They tear the bread into tiny pieces and roll them between their fingers into fine crumbs, tossing them to the peeping birds. Amazing, to have a piece of bread to share with birds. The man is a millionaire.” 0 likes
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