Casebeer, Edwin F. and Linda Casebeer. The Canary Room. Book Review.

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This book is in more of a literary style than I generally read. The entire novel is written in internal and external dialogue from the point of view of 12-year-old Herman, a boy who has been passed from relative to relative. While this format gives us great insight to the character, over the length of the novel it is wearing on the reader.

The text varies from regular print to bold Italic. It is often confusing as to who is speaking and whether it is in the present or past and whether it is internal or aloud. The book desperately cries out for clearer narration. To be honest, I would not have finished it if I had not received a free copy for review.

Having said that, there are good points about The Canary Room. We get to know Herman, and little Charlie, in great depth. Herman has been abandoned by his mother and left with relatives by his father who travels around raising money for war bonds. With the backdrop of the second world war, the lifestyle, language, and behavior of Herman’s social circle is vividly portrayed. Unfortunately, because of the dialog style it often took me considerable time to remember who was who.

The novel is basically an exploration of Herman’s tragic life and his need for continuity, safety, and love. I do believe more plot would have made this a more interesting read as the character exploration did not need 274 pages. At one point, it seemed as though there would be a dramatic ending but instead, it fizzled out.

Although this book wasn’t to my taste, it could be the book for you if you’re looking for something in an experimental style that focuses on character.


Bonnie Ferrante: Books For All Ages


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