The Color of Sound, by Emily Barth Isler, for Timeslip Tuesday

This week's Timeslip Tuesday book is The Color of Sound, by Emily Barth Isler (March 2024, Carolrhoda), is a really absorbing book about Rosie, a girl whose mother is determined not to let her tremendous musical talent be neglected in any way whatsoever. When this pressure breaks Rosie's one friendship, she decides to go on strike and stop playing, so she can make space to find out who she is outside of music.  And so instead of spending her summer focusing on her violin as she has every summer for years, she's off with her mother to the family home in the countryside of Connecticut, where her grandmother is dying of Alzheimer's.

Rosie doesn't know her grandparents well at all, because the violin has always taken precedence in her life, and she doesn't know what to do with herself at her grandparents.  Music still fills her mind, coupled with synesthesia, leaving her disquieted.  But then she finds an old shed being used as a retreat for a girl her own age, Shoshanna, and it seems like they might become friends....Quickly Rosie realizes that this girl isn't an ordinary neighbor--she is her mother, back when she was a kid in 1994.  And Rosie wonders how this lively girl, longing for music herself, became the controlled and controlling woman dedicated to always making sure that the violin comes first.

In the weeks that follows, Rosie manages to make friends with ordinary kids, an older group doing an improv class at the library, she becomes comfortable for the first time with the resident large dog, and she gets to know her grandfather. She learns from him about the history of her Jewish family, and how they escaped the Holocaust, though leaving many of the family behind.  This history leads her back to music, through the song her grandmother remembers her own mother playing....a song she longs to hear again.  It leads her to think more about being Jewish, too, something that wasn't part of her violin focused life.  

And she wonders if somehow she can connect with her mother back in 1994, pushing her toward a present where Rosie's musical genius isn't the whole of their relationship.

I loved all the elements of the family, the memories, Rosie's introspection, and the music that fills the book (even though Rosie only plays three times), and of course the time slipping, though never explained, and never a real driver of the story, was a nice bonus.  But I expected there to be some dramatic reveal about why Rosie's mother ended up the way she did, and there wasn't. It's not at all clear why she is the way she is and not believable that she changes so much at the end of the story (even though this is what Rosie was trying to do with hints and nudges back in the past).  

That being said, it was pretty much a single sitting read for me and I might well re-read it in a few years.

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