Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Sing For Me By Karen Halvorsen Schreck

I received this book from Howard Books for no charge in exchange for my honest review of this book. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Book Description:  

When a good church girl starts singing in a jazz club and falls for the music—as well as a handsome African American man—she struggles to reconcile her childhood faith with her newfound passions.

Raised in the Danish Baptist Church, Rose Sorensen knows it’s wrong to sing worldly songs. But Rose still yearns for those she hears on the radio—“Cheek to Cheek,” “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”—and sings them when no one is around.

One day, Rose’s cousin takes her to Calliope’s, a jazz club, where she dis­covers an exciting world she never knew existed. Here, blacks and whites mingle, brought together by their shared love of music. And though Rose wor­ries it’s wrong—her parents already have a stable husband in mind for her—she can’t stop thinking about the African American pianist of the Chess Men, Theo Chastain. When Rose returns to the jazz club, she is offered the role of singer for the Chess Men. The job would provide money to care for her sister, Sophy, who has cerebral palsy—but at what cost?

As Rose gets to know Theo, their fledgling relationship faces prejudices she never imagined. And as she struggles to balance the dream world of Calliope’s with her cold, hard reality, she also wrestles with God’s call for her life. Can she be a jazz singer? Or will her faith suffer because of her worldly ways?

Set in Depression-era Chicago and rich in historical detail, Sing for Me is a beautiful, evocative story about finding real, unflinching love and embracing—at all costs—your calling.

 My Thoughts:  

Sing For Me is the first book by Karen Halvorsen Schreck I have had the pleasure of reading.  Set in 1937, this book tells the story of Rose Sorensen, a Danish Baptist, who loves to sing all songs especially Jazz music.  Rose's parents are strict Baptist that expect their daughter to follow also. Rose works all day cleaning houses and taking care of her sister, Sophy, who is handicapped. One night Rose's cousin, Rob, takes Rose to a jazz club called Calliope's where blacks and whites mingle from their shared loved of jazz. Rose meets one of the musicians, Theo, and can't stop thinking about him. Theo plays the piano for the band The Chess Men, a mixed race group that plays at Calliope's.  After hearing Rose sing The Chess Men offer Rose a job as their singer, making more money than she could ever make doing the work she is doing.  Rose and Theo find themselves drawn more and more to one another.  They know the risks but still try to be together. 

Sing For Me is a wonderful story about Chicago during 1937.  I have never read anything by Karen Halvorsen Schreck but when I read the description about the book, I had to read it.  I love Christian Historical Fiction and this is no exception. Karen Halvorsen Schreck writes with authority about Chicago in the 1930's, Danish Baptist Church, Denmark, jazz music, and cerebral palsy and how it was treated then.  I found myself unable to put this book down once I started reading, it really drew me in and held on.  I loved the characters in this book especially Theo's Mom, Mrs. Chastain. Her acceptance of Rose and Theo's relationship and her faith really stood out to me. She was a loving mother who treated everyone like her child, taking care of them and accepting of them no matter what.  I enjoyed that throughout this story Karen Halvorsen Shreck's characters always leaned on their faith whether good times or bad, this was a consistent theme throughout.  I felt like I was right there watching these events unfold from the descriptions of Chicago and the time period. This book also delved into interracial relationships and how they were looked at during this time period also. I really enjoyed the historical facts that were mixed in with the fiction. I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys Christian Historical Fiction, you will not be disappointed. I cannot wait to read more from Karen Halvorsen Schreck. I give this book 4.5 STARS.

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