In The Night Journey, a National Jewish Book Award winner, Lasky told the story of how Reuven Bloom helped Sashie, his future wife, escape to America from the persecution of Jewish people living in the Pale during late nineteenth-century Tsarist Russia. Now, in this companion piece, Lasky carries readers back even further to the early days of Reuven Bloom and his transformation from an innocent, young violin prodigy to dangerous revolutionary. After witnessing the savage murder of his family during a pogrom which also wipes out his entire shtetl, Reuven packs away his beloved violin and turns himself into an instrument for a socialist protest movement whose only notes play a “broken song” of revenge, intrigue, and violent plots against blood thirsty Kossaks and the Tsarist Military.
Inspired by her own Jewish heritage, Lasky paints a vivid picture of the brutality and anti-Semitism that prevailed during the reigns of Tsars Alexander III (1881-1894) and Nicholas II (1894-1917). In the end, Reuven realizes that his true soul is not that of a firebrand but one filled with music and the ability to hear notes of joy even amidst the worst periods of suffering and attacks on humanity. No matter what tribulations we suffer in this world, Lasky conveys the point that the spirit and hope of music transcends all and is the one aspect of our humanness that can never be stripped away. No political movement and no amount of inhumanity or suffering can stifle our ability to celebrate life and our expression of joy through music and art. Broken Song is a beautifully written young adult novel that reminds us that our best instruments against violence and persecution are not those that destroy but those that create notes of love, forgiveness, and compassion. (Ages 12+)