Howard Books sent the book “Sing For Me” by Karen Halvorsen Schreck for my review. I received a free copy of this book from Howard Books, for my honest review. The opinions expressed here are my own. From the cover, I was not sure I would like this novel. That just goes to show that you cannot literally judge a book by its cover.
I thought this was an excellent book, both in writing style and story content. I enjoy period novels and this was set in the 1930’s during the Jazz Age in Chicago. Times were hard especially after the Stock Market Crash in 1929. Those who had became those who had not! Rose Sorensen’s family worships in the Danish Baptist church. Rose had a beautiful voice, but she is not supposed to sing anything but worship music. However Rose loves jazz and the popular music that is played in all the jazz clubs during this time. She sneaks around singing this while she is working. Her family had money but because of a reversal, they all work for a fellow Dane who owns apartment buildings. She is also expected to take care of Sophie, her little sister who has cerebral palsy. Her mother and father are pushing her to make a good marriage with the son of a local grocer.
Rose’s cousin Rob sneaks her out one night and takes her to a jazz club on the south side. She loves the music of the Chess Men and falls for the pianist, a black musician. She fills in for of the girl singer and is soon singing every time the band plays at the Calliope Club.
Her relationship with Theo Chastain, the pianist, is forbidden by society. No way can a white woman have a relationship with a black man. Rose and Theo have to sneak around to see each other and have to keep their love a relationship a secret from Rose’s family. Theo’s family accepts Rose, but knows the futility of their relationship. They are even accosted one evening and Theo is beaten within an inch of his life. Rose is injured also. It is then that Theo decides to go to New Orleans to pursue his music. How will they choose how to live their lives.
I was so involved in this book and so interested in the plight of Rose and Theo. I realized that things are not so different now. Some are prejudiced against “mixed” marriages still yet. I think that those who are in love should be able to be together without anyone making judgments. This novel started me thinking about all the different people who have to put up with criticism from others who think that their ideas are the only ones. I felt ashamed that Rose and Theo had to live their lives this way.
Please read this book. I know that you will finish it with a different attitude about those around you who may not act or believe as you do. It makes you pause and reflect. I recommend this book highly.