The Power of Harmony


In 1968 Nova Scotia, nine-year-old Jennifer waits nervously for her turn to sing at the Music Festival. Although everyone tells her she’s “got the voice of an angel,” she faints on the stage. Jennifer is a bashful child, and has been continually bullied by her classmates ever since her best friend moved to another town. When her best friend’s seat at school is filled by a native Indian girl named Melody, Jennifer finds a brief respite when the members of the popular clique turn their attentions to harassing Melody. But Jennifer and Melody soon bond over their shared love of books and singing, and their shared status as outcasts. Though the bullying progressively becomes more severe, the girls find the fortitude to stand up for themselves when they are selected to sing a duet at the Miners’ Hall Concert. Anne Murray – a local girl turned famous singer – gives them the sage advice: “Sing with your heart and soul; harmony’s a powerful thing.”

Jan Coates has penned a superb novel for young adults that would keep them engrossed to the end. Lines such as: “Native people being good-for-nothing, is like saying all people with blonde hair are stupid,” will do much to inform young readers. Although Jennifer’s meek attitude toward bullying might surprise some, such cases are not uncommon. Perhaps the novel should have directed a stronger message, particularly to the teachers, against tolerating such behavior.

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