Half Blood Blues was the February group read book for the Goodreads Canadian Content group in celebration of Black History Month. This historical fiction novel is narrated by Sid, a jazz musician, as he reflects back fifty years to his days performing in Berlin (and later Paris) during the war. Half Blood Blues was the winner of the prestigious 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize.
Sid reflects back on the chaotic time as the group struggled to record their music while the war was advanced. Their trumpet player was a mischling (a mixed race German), a member of a group that was targeted by the Nazi party. The group fled to Paris with fake documents and a dream to play with Louis Armstrong who awaited their arrival.
As the war tumbled into France, the remaining group members formed a plan to sail to America. They waited for their travel visa’s and Hiero was captured by the Nazis and disappeared. Fifty years later Sid and the other remaining group member, Chip, head back to Europe when a documentary is released about Hiero. Sid learns that Hiero is living and they all are forced to reconsider and come to terms with past deception, relationships and history.
While I enjoyed the tale and learned a different perspective of WW2, this was not a quick read for me. The story is very slow to share the background so that the reader can piece together the story as they read chapters alternating between the present and past. Perhaps if I had more jazz knowledge, it might have had more impact. I am glad that I read but looking forward to a faster paced read for my next book!
I think I felt the same way as you about this. So well written, but pretty slow-going. And the jazz scene is not really my thing.
I really wanted to enjoy it more!!
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