Sounds of War
By Cindy Chen
Genre: YA, Historical Fiction
People were dying. Bodies were lying along the streets. Air raid sirens were about to go off at any moment. Nobody was shown any mercy. For Anna, life had always been about music. An aspiring pianist and composer, she studied at the renowned Leningrad Conservatoire under some of the greatest musicians to ever walk the face of the Earth. Her studies came to a halt, however, when Nazi troops surrounded Leningrad in September, 1941, intending to shell and starve the city into submission. She watched as her once beautiful city transformed in front of her eyes: people became living skeletons, their only food being a mere 125 grams of ration bread a day; buildings were reduced to rubble, pieces of bricks and broken glass strewn along the streets; cats, dogs, rats, and horses disappeared as people chose to eat them instead. One by one, the citizens of Leningrad were losing hope, and Anna was desperately trying to find a reason to hold on and a way to continue… Sounds of War is a poignant tale about the strength of human determination and the power of great music.
In this unpredictable world, music was the only thing we could control.
“I’m glad you’re staying,” he told me in between of one of the pieces.
“Me too,” I replied. I was comforted by the fact that for just a little while more, my life here in Leningrad would remain the same. As the notes rang out in the halls of the Conservatoire, and as my fingers moved alongside Isaak’s on the keyboard, I felt content. Safe. I knew where the phrases began and ended, and I knew which notes came next. The double bar lines at the end of the piece allowed me to draw the piece to an end, and the music notations told me what to do and how to manipulate the sound. I was always in control of the music.
... but I was completely at the mercy of the war.
A Taiwan native, Cindy Chen immigrated to the United States when she was 9 and lived there ever since. She started writing at age fourteen and started writing longer works of fiction in 2013 when she first participated in National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). At age sixteen, she was awarded second place at the Georgia PTA Reflections contest in the literature category with her short story “To Believe,” and at age seventeen, she published her first book titled Sounds of War as part of her high school senior project. Though currently a student at Cornell University with the hopes of pursuing a career in the medical field, she enjoys playing the viola, blogging, and making youtube videos in her spare time and considers writing one of her greatest passions.