“THE VIOLIN PLAYERS,” by Eileen Bluestone Sherman, begins very innocently. At first, it appears to be a typical teen romance whose main character, a savvy New York City teenager named Melissa Jensen, finds herself uprooted to a small town in the Midwest during her junior year of high school. To her amazement, the college town seems to offer her more than she ever suspected, including immediate popularity with the “coolest kids in school.” However, for the first time in her life, Melissa must navigate anti-Semitism and racism. Her choice to speak out should be clear-cut, but life is never that simple. “The Violin Players” examines the price we pay when bigotry is met with silence.
Excerpt from The Violin Players:
Melissa wasn’t surprised that a lot of them had crushes on Chris. But she was still curious about the boy in her drama class and described him to a talkative girl named Jane. “You mean Daniel,” Jane said immediately. “You might as well forget him. He’s never around on weekends. Leaves every Friday afternoon for Kansas City.”
“Why Kansas City? His folks separated?” Melissa thought about her own girlfriend, Jill, who shuttled from parent to parent.
“That’s not it.” Jane explained.
“So?” Melissa persisted. The girl leaned over as if to share a confidence. “See, he’s the only Jewish kid at school. Personally, I don’t care although some people around here don’t like him because he’s Jewish.” Melissa noticed how the girl’s eyes scoured the room. “Anyway, on weekends, he hangs out with a whole other crowd. Too bad. He’s awfully cute.”
Melissa nodded in agreement. On her face was a polite smile. No one could have guessed her discomfort. The rest of the night she carefully observed all these friendly cheerleaders and wondered which ones would automatically hate her once they knew the truth.
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