Richly textured and lyrically written, Prairie Sonata is the story of Mira Adler and her journey from innocence to experience. Mira grows up in post World War II Canada, in a close-knit Manitoba community founded by secular Jews from Eastern Europe. At the heart of her journey is the friendship that she develops with her teacher, Chaver B, a recent immigrant from Prague who is mysterious and intriguing and who Mira believes harbours a painful secret. Chaver B becomes deeply intwined in Mira's life, and their relationship evolves, especially after he offers to teach her to play the violin.
Little by little, Mira chips away at Chaver B's past and soon comes to the shocking realization of what brought him to Manitoba. What she learns about his history both outrages and saddens her, yet she cannot stop herself from uncovering the truth about his life. While Chaver B attempts to reconcile his feelings of guilt, Mira struggles to understand a world that seems to be vastly different from the nurturing and seemingly untroubled one in which she grows up. And despite what she learns about Chaver B, herself, and the world around her, when she is older, Mira yearns for the chance to go back to her childhood.
A coming-of-age story about music, love, friendship, community, and religion, Prairie Sonata is a riveting tale that will resonate with and captivate the reader....
"A compelling work with a wistful longing for days of childhood innocence. A poignant and eloquent reflection on tradition, family, friendship, and tragedy." -Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
Sandy Shefrin Rabin grew up in Winnipeg, Manitoba, in a community much like Mira’s. She holds both a B.A. in English and an M.D. degree from the University of Manitoba. She completed an Internal Medicine residency at McGill University and her Neurology residency at the New York Hospital Cornell Medical Center in Manhattan. She currently practices Neurology in Marin County, near San Francisco.
Sandy has written for the Marin Independent Journal and has been published in several medical journals. She lives in Mill Valley, California, with her husband and has three sons. Prairie Sonata is her first novel.
Prairie Sonata is a wonderfully poignant look at jewish life in the flatlands of Canada, the innocent of childhood, the growing pains of being a teenager and the disillusionment of adulthood. The narrative structure is endlessly poetic, and the musical references weave into this bildungsroman seamlessly and beautifully. A book that encompasses all the trials and tribulations of growing up, learning about your past and grappling with your identity, Prairie Sonata is a triumphant ode to jewish upbringings and a window into life in central Canada and jewish communities everywhere.
Prairie Sonata follows the childhood and adolescence of Mira in a post World War, Secular Jewish community in Manitoba, Canada. While her family has been there pre-war, she finds new members of her community mysterious and secretive of painful memories, particularly her violin teacher.
This book accurately and beautifully captures the feeling of growing up, transitioning from a childhood, where no bad can exist in the world, to well...the world we all know that at times can be full of pain and loss. I was moved while following Mira’s journey from childhood to young adulthood. From first having her world view shifted to recognizing continued injustices around her, it was heartwarming to see Mira’s resolve for a more fair and just world grow as she grew up.
I also really appreciated the deep connection this story has to Jewish faith and traditions. While not Jewish myself, I enjoyed moving through the years of the book with the markers of holidays, festivities, family and traditions, some known to me and some not. It reminded me of the cozy warmth of a school pageant, a full table of family and friends and the traditions that bond people. I appreciated the way the story balanced learning lessons about life through religious stories and practice, while also allowing space for questioning of God, faith, existence that most people go through. Holding space for people not all believing or thinking in the same way, so long as they are good and kind.
Overall, Mira was a lovely and relatable character. She is smart, precocious and at times naive in the way that feels authentic to a pre-teen/teen. The way that her hometown and the nature surrounding it is described feels drive through your hometown, remembering what it was like to be 15 and reminiscing on the experiences that formed who you are today. Some of the memories are happy and some are deeply sad, but the people we love are always with us because of the impact they have on our lives.
A beautiful coming of age novel which resonates with young and old and transcends time. While taking place in post World War 2 Canada, its themes are as relevant today as ever. With the turmoil facing our globalized world in 2021, the struggles our youth encounter growing up mirror the protagonist's experience of coming to terms with the raw world outside her sheltered childhood home.
Not only does Prarie Sonata have a beautiful way of using music to assist in the narrative in a way I have not previously seen in other novels, but the descriptions of each song are a story of their own. I play violin myself and found the musical descriptions poetic.
I highly recommend this book to any age group. It is a page turner that brought me back to my childhood.
Interesting, different perspectives - Jewish and Canadian. Mira Adler is a young girl in Manitoba, Canada. We read and she grows from an elementary child to a young woman. She plays the violin, taught by Chaver B - a man with a past, Nazis and a long lost love. She ages, changes, grows up and learns that being an adult isn't exactly what she thought, that people do things that aren't always understandable or sensible.
My wife had just finished reading this book and told me that it was great, and that I should read it, too, which I did. I agree. It was great. I was taken in from the first to the last pages. It was poetic, philosophical, and incredibly moving. I highly recommend it.