It took me a few days to get through Music was IT: Young Leonard Bernstein not because it was a hard read but was a read that took time to get through as there was a lot going on and I needed to concentrate on it. Plus, having a cold that made me not want to read did not help. Susan Goldman Rubin created a good introduction about the man Leonard Bernstein, but it needed more as it ends on his debut in Carnegie Hall performance. What is next? What is going to happen to him? And I want to know more about Sam Bernstein, his father.
Rubin follows Bernstein from a young child to the day he became Leonard Bernstein. My favorite line is at the end is Sam answering, “How did I know he was going to become Leonard Bernstein?” to the question why he was against Lenny going into music. And that sums up this story. Everything about the younger Bernstein shows that he had a passion for music, composing, acting, etc. But at the time, that was not something people could make money at if you had the handicap of being an American musician. The world was not kind to non-American composers, and the Sam knew that. He knew the world was not kind to Jews and he knew that there was a certain way of things. But what he did not know or realize that he had one headstrong son who was going to toss that all on its head.
A little of the history of the world is told as well. The Bernstein’s summered at one of the only places allowed to Jews. World War II was to start soon, but there was the “before” as well. There was much about the other people that inspired, taught, and befriend Lenny B. We get an overall picture of things. What I appreciated the most was how people would do things that were “typical of the time” such as getting a piano when you can’t afford it, or “like a typical Jewish families at the time” would be mentioned. This shows how tradition was smacked upside the head by Bernstein.
There is photography that adds to the story of what made Bernstein and an afterwards that fills in a few blanks and mentioned things that are not completely needed for this highlight biography but do hint at a lot more scandal and goodies in the subject’s life. Probably best for age 10 to 14, but it can probably be adapted for the slightly younger reader and for certain adults.