Sing for Me

A Novel

Sing for Me

When a good church girl starts singing in a jazz club and falls for the music—as well as a handsome, African-American man—she struggles to reconcile her childhood faith with her newfound passions.

When a good church girl starts singing in a jazz club and falls for the music—as well as a handsome African American man—she struggles to reconcile her childhood faith with her newfound passions.

Raised in the Danish Baptist Church, Rose Sorensen knows it’s wrong to sing worldly songs. But Rose still yearns for those she hears on the radio—“Cheek to Cheek,” “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”—and sings them when no one is around.

One day, Rose’s cousin takes her to Calliope’s, a jazz club, where she dis­covers an exciting world she never knew existed. Here, blacks and whites mingle, brought together by their shared love of music. And though Rose wor­ries it’s wrong—her parents already have a stable husband in mind for her—she can’t stop thinking about the African American pianist of the Chess Men, Theo Chastain. When Rose returns to the jazz club, she is offered the role of singer for the Chess Men. The job would provide money to care for her sister, Sophy, who has cerebral palsy—but at what cost?

As Rose gets to know Theo, their fledgling relationship faces prejudices she never imagined. And as she struggles to balance the dream world of Calliope’s with her cold, hard reality, she also wrestles with God’s call for her life. Can she be a jazz singer? Or will her faith suffer because of her worldly ways?

Set in Depression-era Chicago and rich in historical detail, Sing for Me is a beautiful, evocative story about finding real, unflinching love and embracing—at all costs—your calling.
  • Howard Books | 
  • 336 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781476705484 | 
  • April 2014
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Reading Group Guide

This reading group guide for Sing for Me includes an introduction, discussion questions, ideas for enhancing your book club, and a Q&A with author Karen Halvorsen Schreck . The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.


Rose Sorensen is a young woman gifted with a voice to sing and a heart to serve her disabled sister. Raised in the Danish-Baptist Church and by emotionally absent parents, Rose plays the roles expected of her within these spheres of protection. But what happens when a young woman crosses these thresholds and finds that she is fully alive in a jazz club that plays secular music rather than the cathedral halls of her church filled with hymns? And what happens when she is most happy in the presence of an African-American pianist rather than with the Danish man her parents believe she should marry? Rose’s passions clash against the ideals and secure ways of life for a young Danish woman in depression-era Chicago. Tenacity and true faith, amidst great risk, are born out of Rose’s resolute pursuit to discover God’s calling on her life as well as true love.  

Topics & Questions for Discussion 

1. Rose’s passion for worldly music rather than solely see more

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About the Author

Karen Halvorsen Schreck
Photograph © Greg Halvorsen Schreck

Karen Halvorsen Schreck

Karen Halvorsen Schreck is the author of three previous novels, Sing for Me, Dream Journal, and While He Was Away. She received her doctorate in English and Creative Writing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her short stories and articles have appeared in Literal Latté, Other Voices, Image, as well as other literary journals and magazines, and have received various awards, including a Pushcart Prize, an Illinois State Arts Council Grant, and in 2009, first prize awards for memoir and devotional magazine writing from the Evangelical Press Association. A freelance writer and frequent visiting professor of English at Wheaton College, Karen lives with her husband and two children in Wheaton, Illinois.