The Yellow Bird Sings

A Novel

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Pub Date 03 Mar 2020 | Archive Date 06 Oct 2020


National Jewish Book Award Finalist

"Rosner’s exquisite, heart-rending debut novel is proof that there’s always going to be room for another story about World War II....This is an absolutely beautiful and necessary novel, full of heartbreak but also hope, about the bond between mother and daughter, and the sacrifices made for love."
The New York Times

In Poland, as World War II rages, a mother hides with her young daughter, a musical prodigy whose slightest sound may cost them their lives.

As Nazi soldiers round up the Jews in their town, Róza and her 5-year-old daughter, Shira, flee, seeking shelter in a neighbor’s barn. Hidden in the hayloft day and night, Shira struggles to stay still and quiet, as music pulses through her and the farmyard outside beckons. To soothe her daughter and pass the time, Róza tells her a story about a girl in an enchanted garden:

The girl is forbidden from making a sound, so the yellow bird sings. He sings whatever the girl composes in her head: high-pitched trills of piccolo; low-throated growls of contrabassoon. Music helps the flowers bloom.

In this make-believe world, Róza can shield Shira from the horrors that surround them. But the day comes when their haven is no longer safe, and Róza must make an impossible choice: whether to keep Shira by her side or give her the chance to survive apart.

Inspired by the true stories of Jewish children hidden during World War II, Jennifer Rosner’s debut is a breathtaking novel about the unbreakable bond between a mother and a daughter. Beautiful and riveting, The Yellow Bird Sings is a testament to the triumph of hope—a whispered story, a bird’s song—in even the darkest of times.

National Jewish Book Award Finalist

"Rosner’s exquisite, heart-rending debut novel is proof that there’s always going to be room for another story about World War II....This is an absolutely...

Advance Praise

"Rosner’s exquisite, heart-rending debut novel is proof that there’s always going to be room for another story about World War II....This is an absolutely beautiful and necessary novel, full of heartbreak but also hope, about the bond between mother and daughter, and the sacrifices made for love."

The New York Times

“Jennifer Rosner hooks readers from the onset…Readers will have empathy for Róza and Shira, and admire Róza’s courage and persistence as she faces life without her daughter, releasing her to save her, like a bird freed from a cage.”

The Missourian

“A study of music, imagination and the power of a mother’s love.”


“Satisfying and sweet…Love, empathy and fear—as well as a yellow songbird—wind through this tale of an unbreakable bond between mother and child. The novel demonstrates Ms. Rosner’s deep understanding of the terrors of the Holocaust.”

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

“The book will help you escape the drudgery of solitude in your own home—and remember past beacons of hope during troubling times.”

“The power of a mother-daughter bond is beautifully portrayed against the backdrop of 1941 Poland.”

WBUR’s The ARTery

“Written in beautifully understated prose and tinged with magical elements, The Yellow Bird Sings is about the bonds between mothers and daughters, and the enduring power of music and storytelling even in the most devastating of times.”


“Rosner challenges the Holocaust with a touch of magic (the yellow bird appears throughout), clarifying a dangerous time and place even as she offers a vibrant, affecting portrait of the mother-daughter relationship.”

Library Journal (starred review)

“In Shira and Roza, Rosner captures two souls in turmoil, chronicling their grief as well as their strength of will to overcome, their longing and even surprising triumphs…The Yellow Bird Sings keeps your heart in your throat, your eyes pricked with tears.”

BookPage (starred review)

“This stunning debut novel sings with the power of a mother’s love and the heartbreaking risks she’ll endure.”


“A World War II story with a Room-like twist, one that also deftly examines the ways in which art and imagination can sustain us…This is a Holocaust novel, but it’s also an effective work of suspense, and Rosner’s understanding of how art plays a role in our lives, even at the worst of times, is impressive.”


“Moving…A wrenching chronicle.”

Publishers Weekly

“A beautiful book in so many ways. Like Shira’s imaginary bird, Jennifer Rosner’s prose is lilting and musical, yet her tale of war’s grave personal reality is gripping, heartrending, and so very real.”

Lisa Wingate, author of Before We Were Yours and Before and After

“Music and love course through this beautiful novel, twin rivers of wonder. Jennifer Rosner has written a book that will break your heart, and then put it back together again, a little larger than before.”

Alex George, author of A Good American

“Desperately moving and exquisitely written. If you only read one book this year, make it The Yellow Bird Sings. A beautiful story with achingly memorable characters, for me Jennifer Rosner’s novel stands alongside The Boy in the Striped Pajamas and Code Name Verity as one of those profoundly special World War Two novels you know you will never forget.”

AJ Pearce, author of Dear Mrs. Bird

“A beautifully written tale of mothers and daughters, war and love, the music of the living and the silence of the dead.”

Kate Quinn, author of The Huntress and The Alice Network

“A captivating novel of the power of music, the human voice, and what we sacrifice in order to survive extraordinary circumstances. Absolutely riveting.”

Ramona Ausubel, author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty and No One Is Here Except All of Us

“An extraordinary debut novel, brimming with beauty, hope, and heart.”

Meg Waite Clayton, author of The Last Train to London

“A brilliant and transporting novel.”

Margot Livesey, author of Mercury and The Flight of Gemma Hardy

“An extraordinarily beautiful and moving novel of the human heart. It is a rich and poignant story of the enduring power of love and hope in the face of peril.”

David Gillham, author of City of Women

"Rosner’s exquisite, heart-rending debut novel is proof that there’s always going to be room for another story about World War II....This is an absolutely beautiful and necessary novel, full of...

Available Editions

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ISBN 9781250179760
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Featured Reviews

This story was so beautifully written, and also heartbreaking. It is the story of a Jewish mother and her daughter, who is a musical prodigy - who are in hiding during World War 2 - in order to help keep her daughter quiet, the mother tells many stories, including one of a musical bird, which deeply enchants her daughter. The details and descriptions in this book are enchanting, even with the subject matter. The relationship between the mother and her daughter is so wonderful, and the characters all feel incredibly realistic.

4.5 stars.

As an aside, somehow I did not realize until I read the acknowledgements that I had read another book by this author - "When A Tree Falls', which is nonfiction, and which I also highly recommend.

Thank you to Flatiron Books and NetGalley for the chance to read this book!

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The Yellow Bird Sings is a beautifully written story of the bond between mothers and daughters that is put to the test during the horrors of war. A mother is forced to go into hiding with her child and regales her with stories of enchanted gardens and the sound of a musical bird. She creates this world to keep her daughter quiet so that they will not be found in their hiding places. The child is a musical prodigy so the bird provides much comfort. In time the mother must make a heart rendering decision to give her child up to strangers in order to keep her safe. The ending is stunning! Thank you Netgalley for the opportunity to enjoy this wonderful book..

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The perfect novel for anyone who loves World War II historical fiction. I believe it will be one of the most talked about historical fiction release for 2020.

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Heart wrenching beautifully written.World war 2a Jewish mother and her daughter who is a musical prodigy are hiding from the nazis in a barn.Not a sound can be made not a musical note by the young girl and so the Yellow Bird Sings,#netgalley#flatironbooks.

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The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner was an excellent WWII story, one of those stories where you find yourself still reading at 2AM, cause you have to know what happens. Rosner tells the tale of a Jewish mother hiding in a barn, with her young music prodigy daughter. Loved this book....5 stars!!

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After hiding in a hayloft in Poland for more than a year during The early years of WWII, Roza entrusts her young daughter Shira to the nuns of a convent. The Yellow Bird Sings is a beautifully written book about longing, the longing of mother and child for one another, the longing for love, and the longing expressed through music. I have read many books of this same general plot ...people who love one another who are separated by war and who go through extraordinary hardships and to extraordinary lengths to survive and reunite. The Yellow Bird Sings ranks among the best of them, Brava

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The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner is a poignant and haunting story of love and survival during WWII Poland. With her parents arrested and her husband murdered at the hands of the Nazi’s, Roza flees her home with her five year old daughter Shira. They manage to take shelter in a near-by barn where Roza and her daughter seek temporary shelter until she can devise a plan of escape.

Though the farmer Henryk and his wife Krystyna offer shelter for several months, it is not without cost to Roza. And though they are safe for now, their fate is still precarious. For little Shira keeping still and quiet in a barn loft is difficult. She longs to be a five year old child, to run and play, but with the possibility of being found Roza must devise ways to entertain her daughter to keep her silent. She invents a charming story of a garden where a little yellow bird sings the songs Shira longs to hear. Shira keeps this little bird with her most especially in times of danger, as when the soldiers are patrolling and the neighbors lurking about, but when Roza learns the Nazi’s have decided to requisition the barn for use, she has no choice but to flee. When Krystyna offers an opportunity for Shira to escape to a convent of sisters who are caring for orphan children, Roza is not sure she can let her daughter go. But as the time draws near to leave, Roza knows this plan may be Shira’s only hope of survival.

The Yellow Bird Sings was painfully beautiful. The characters that Jennifer Rosner created were so heartfelt, from Roza and Shira, to the sisters that took care of the orphans, to the survivors in the woods that cared for one another, all fall together to form an emotional read. At times the story was so engrossing that I lost all track of time. It was a wonderful way to pass the hours.

So,if you love historical fiction, especially survival stories centering around WWll and looking for a new read, I promise you will love The Yellow Bird Sings. I want to thank the publisher Flatiron Books and NetGalley for a complimentary copy of the book The Yellow Bird Sings by Jennifer Rosner. “Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own.”

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Loved this one and felt it was on par with the best WW II fiction. Excellent read .
Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for letting me review this book

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This is a compelling read by a great author. I got so involved in the characters lives. This is well written and if you are a fan of WWII Historical Fiction, then I highly recommend. Bravery, perseverance, music, love...

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This is a beautifully written heart breaking book. It's a breath taking story about a Jewish mother's love for her young daughter during WWII. This book will hold you captive until you turn the last page. It is definitely a "MUST READ". I can't find the words to describe how good this book was. Thank you Flatiron Books via NetGalley for the ARC copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own.

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