The Canary Room By Edwin F. Casebeer, Linda Casebeer




The Blurb…

In the spring of 1945, a young boy in the Pacific Northwest will make a life-or-death decision. Every morning, Herman “Hermy” Auerbach awakens to the pre-dawn song of canaries. The porch where he sleeps contains dozens of the songbirds. Outside, in the wider world, the Second World War enters its final, bloody months. Hermy comes to the Williams’ house under protest after his parents’ divorce, a result of his father leaving home initially to pursue his impossible dream of becoming an intelligence officer. Herman’s mother, remarried to a sailor, abandons her son to move across the country and start another family with her new husband. By the time he takes up residency in the canary room, Hermy has already suffered both from abandonment and bullying. Life with the large, messy Williams clan offers Hermy little relief, although he bonds with the other boys in the family. When the boys hatch a wild escape plan, Hermy finds himself facing death, and deciding if his life is worth the struggle to survive after losing everything. A compelling story of one boy’s struggle to survive the uncertainties of foster care and the war, The Canary Room brings to life the daily challenges of life on the US home front in vivid, historically accurate detail.

My Thoughts…

This is not my normal type of book  that i would read and so you will have to take this into account when you read my review. but i was asked to review it and decided to give it a chance…

Young Herman Auerbach has had a tumultuous upbringing. After his parents’ divorce and a bout with polio, Hermy lives first with his Auntie Ide and later with foster families. His foster mother, Gladys Williams, keeps dozens of canaries, a welcome animal presence for a boy who grew up with pet snakes and rats. Parallel structures allow comparison of Hermy’s current idyllic childhood with often traumatic events from his last few years. His thoughts and memories pervade the narrative, and World War II is a constant background hum.


The novel sets up a contrast between Hermy’s seemingly normal childhood  and his disturbing past.His dark history surfaces in details such as his smoking habit and the scar from a gunshot wound inflicted by a drunken uncle. His parents’ divorce, an uncle’s death, bullying, and hints of sexual abuse all add up to make Hermy seem much older than twelve, while the evocative wartime setting exposes harsh realities of rationing and the draft.

A well-written coming-of-age tale, The Canary Room will appeal to fans of John Irving’s and Don DeLillo’s works. 


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