HEARTSINGER by Karlijn Stoffels
Translated by Laura Watkinson
Age Recommendation: Grade 6+
Release Date: January 2009
Publisher: Arthur A. Levine Books
Reviewed by: JAGLVR
HEARTSINGER is one of those rare books that don’t fit the mold of one genre. Flowing more like a fairy tale, Ms. Stoffels creates a story the weaves multiple romances into one epic journey of Me, the singer of sorrows.
Born of deaf mute parents, Me was always called “You,” “Boy” or “You There.” So when the local school master arrives to take him to school, when asked his name, he responds that he is me, and thus, “Mee” becomes his name. He excels at school, but music is his gift. He is able to create such haunting music that everyone stops to listen when they hear his song.
But after his father dies, and his mother grows ill, Mee does all he can to relieve his mother’s suffering. Unable to here his song; she nods sadly and passes away. After her death, Me can not remain in the house that reminds him of his inability to heal his mother.
Mee sets off on a journey that takes him to many villages and distant lands. He is sought after by all as the singer of sorrows. He helps ease the pain of those in mourning. The book shares his different encounters and their sad stories.
On the same day as Mee’s birth, another gifted musician, Mitou, has heard of Mee’s fame and seeks him out. She is the opposite of Mee, singing of color and happiness. Traveling from the opposite direction, she is sure she will find him.
The two are then asked to travel across the water to the island kingdom. There, Princess Esperanza sits forever starring in a mirror. Denying a prince her hand in marriage, she eats, sleeps, and lives in front of her mirror. Growing up in a house where she was left her own devices, it is up to Mee and Mitou to break the mirror’s spell.
Translated into English, HEARTSINGER is a moving tale of love and loss. The intertwined stories that help tell of Mee’s travels are touching and sweet. The story moves quickly, leading up to Mee’s search for himself.