Adrift on the wide ocean in a flimsy boat meant for pleasure, not rescue, a group of strangers huddle together. Each has their own story. Each is clinging to the hope of freedom.
Cradling all he has left, Rami feels lost. As his fellow travellers share their stories and try to share their meagre possessions with him, Rami refuses, saying he has nothing to offer in return. But he has the case he is cradling to his chest which contains a violin...
'Too fragile. Too intricate. Too beautiful. Suspended silence from some other world.'
And so Rami offers music and story with their power to heal and their gift of hope.
I cried as I read this book. That Gill Lewis is a powerful storyteller is no surprise, but in 'A Story Like the Wind' her lyrical writing coupled with the beauty of the illustrations and the poignance of the subject matter left me breathless.
As Rami shares the 'first story' of his instrument, remembered 'in the grain of wood of its body, in the tautness of its strings and in the scroll of its neck', the personal stories of those in the boat become entwined with it. As he plays, his inspiring tale of standing firm in the face of oppression and injustice offers each of them hope and the determination to keep the song of freedom alive.
The illustrations are fabulous. Each one is a real work of art, complementing the beautiful text in the telling of both the stories of the refugees and the traditional Mongolian tale of the origin of the horsehead violin.
If you only read one book this year, make this the one.
A Story Like the Wind by Gill Lewis, illustrated by Jo Weaver
OUP ISBN: 978-0192758958