I will be the first person to tell you that YA nonfiction is not a particularly popular genre. It’s just not. I don’t normally read nonfiction myself for the sole fact that it just doesn’t really interest me. But, as a lover of Russian history (I know, who would have guessed), Symphony for the City of the Dead: Dmitri Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad was practically required reading for me. Before reading, I’ll admit, I was nervous. Non fiction? I wasn’t too sure about it.
But I took the plunge, and I’ve never been more glad I did. You will absolutely adore this book, even if you have no real knowledge of classical music (like me), or have no knowledge of Russian history. If you enjoyed Ruta Sepetys’s Between Shades of Gray or even Elizabeth Wein’s Cody Name Verity , you’ll love Symphony for the City of the Dead.
Within nearly 400 pages, M. T. Anderson conjures up a vivid portrait of Russia during the Communist revolution and WWII, complete with gorgeous photographs and stunning descriptions of Shostakovich’s symphonies. Shostakovich, for those who don’t know, was a beloved Russian composer with an amazing life. This book is educational, yes, but is written in a way that makes it almost seem as if it were a beautiful historical fiction, instead of a non fiction piece. This combined with Anderson’s urbane writing style and meticulous research, Symphony for the City of the Dead is truly a force to be reckoned with.