by Sonia Levitin
A teen novel about cultural diversity, specifically anti-Semitism. A boy in the distant future, when everyone wears alike masks and chants “harmony is happiness,” finds he loves music — which is against the rules. The elders have to “cure” him by sending him to the past – Strasbourg in 1348 when & where anti-Semitism is rampant, and the Jews are being blamed for the Black Plague.
Like Snow Falling on Cedars, the racism in this book is always blatant: never the subtle & more devious (not to say realistic) sort. As a result, the book comes off preachy to an adult reader — would teens be able to detect subtlety or do they need in-your-face depictions? I assume they are smarter than many authors give them credit for.
Unfortunately, the author is best at depicting the future world. The past world seems a bit lacking in authenticity (does that mean I think her future world is more authentic?); yet the bulk of the story is set in the past. Overall, however, a fairly interesting if not engrossing read that preaches that ethnic diversity is more difficult, but that society and its individuals would ulitmately be happier.