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The Canary Room

2.73  ·  Rating Details ·  73 Ratings  ·  52 Reviews
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 ...more
Paperback, 280 pages
Published July 28th 2014 by Createspace
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Rebecca Foster
In their debut novel, set in 1945 Idaho, the Casebeers create a vivid wartime backdrop for the story of a twelve-year-old boy in an unstable family situation. Based in part on Edwin’s childhood, the novel is rich with animal imagery and period slang. Inner monologues with a noteworthy stream-of-consciousness style trace the coming of age of a foster child during World War II.

The novel sets up a lucid contrast between Hermy’s all-American boyhood with the Williams family and his disturbing past.
Dec 18, 2014 Dana rated it did not like it
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book through Goodreads' giveaway program in exchange for an honest review.

Some sentences were written in italics, others in bold, others in normal formatting.

There didn't seem to be any reasoning for the change in formatting. Thoughts were both italic and regular, and conversations were bold, italic and regular, so this left me utterly confused.

There was a space between almost every sentence and section of the book.

Even if I could get passed that, which I couldn't, there was no di
Liz Brooks
Jun 17, 2015 Liz Brooks rated it did not like it
***I’ll try to mark spoilers, but be forewarned!***

First off, I got this book free on Goodreads First Reads. Thank you to the authors, Edwin and Linda Casebeer, for offering a copy of their book! (And I’m sorry I didn’t like it.)

When I write a book review, I try to start out by listing positives. But honestly, I couldn’t find much of that for THE CANARY ROOM. Perhaps the only character I halfway appreciated was Sonny, and even he was disappointing/annoying. Also, I enjoyed the (brief) addition
Olivia-Savannah Roach
Feb 17, 2015 Olivia-Savannah Roach rated it really liked it
This review can originally be found on Olivia's Catastrophe:

When I began this book I didn’t know it was written in a stream of consciousness style. At first that was pretty hard for me to adapt to, but after two chapters I was loved it. I am someone who likes books which try something unique or different, and this style was just that, and done well. It might not be for everyone, but it was for me J It also meant there were three different fonts: one for f
Aug 20, 2015 H.i.b.a. rated it did not like it
Shelves: dnf, arc
DNF. Just...DNF.

Was there a purpose to all THE different fonts? That, and the fact that I wasn't invested in the plot at all, made this a DNF.

Disclosure: received a copy for an honest review via Goodreads' First Reads.
Sally Balboa
Jan 05, 2015 Sally Balboa rated it really liked it
I received a free copy of this book from Goodreads in exchange for a review. I'm not sure what I was expecting when I started reading the book but the first thing that told me this was going to be a strange book was when I saw the formatting with italics and bold applied generously. Aside from the formatting of the book, the content was weirdly good but not for everyone.

The Canary Room is set in 1945 near the end of the second world war. Hermy is living with a family that is not his own. Becaus
Jun 04, 2015 Kristine rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
Original review can be found at

**I received a copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.**

There could have been a beautiful story here but it got totally lost in the style and writing. First off, it was completely over written and complicated. The way in which it was delivered was a mess. I had to double check because I thought maybe I had an ARC with the different sized fonts, bold type and italic. It went back and f
Susan Swiderski
To tell the truth, this book's constant switch between standard print, italics, and bold print was somewhat confusing and discombobulating, but maybe that's exactly the reaction the authors were hoping to achieve. After all, life during WWII was pretty darned confusing and discombobulating, too, and it would have been even more so for a twelve-year-old boy whose father left him to flounder on his own in a foster home. In following young Hermie as he struggles to make sense of his life, the book ...more
Aug 20, 2015 Lou rated it did not like it
Sometimes I think I'm too optimistic when it's about books. I believe that a slow beginning is not an obstacle to keep me reading until the end... Well, it seems that this book is the exception.

If this book were a body, it'd be a body without a head, arms and legs. You never know where the story starts, where is the climax or how the heck you get to the end. So, I did a list of the things I didn't like of this dismembered body:

-The bold, italic, and underlined text made the narrative weird.
Darlene Cruz
Nov 15, 2014 Darlene Cruz rated it it was amazing
A descriptive story of a twelve year old boy, Herman Auerbach stricken with polio that affected his left arm. Parents divorced, now he enters foster care not once, not twice but? Where does the title of the book comes into the story? One of his foster family had a room filled with canaries and just so happen he shared a bed in that particular room. You would think more would come of it but it did not, so let's move on. The changes and acceptance and conformity Herman must make, I found pretty ...more
Dec 09, 2014 Amy rated it really liked it
I was given a copy of this book for an honest review.

This is a well written story of Herman "Hermy" Auerbach, who is basically unwanted and abandoned by both of his parents for their own selfish reasons. The setting is the end of WWII, the really gruesome part. Hermy is left to live with the William's family and the other boys they are fostering. Hermy, for all of his 12 years is a remarkable and brave child. He is on a quest to figure out who he is. The All American boy has some troubling past
Oct 24, 2014 Marjorie rated it really liked it
Given To Me For An Honest Review

Edwin and Linda Casebeer's book The Canary Room: A Novel is a must read. It is set in World War II when a young boy is living with so much fear and uncertainty. This book will grab you from the beginning, keep you stuck on your seat and then you will become a page turner over and over again. It will keep you wondering and it will end in a discussion of life or death. There is a young boy who is the main character and he is trying to find out who he is in an unstab
Feb 15, 2015 Guylou rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-reads
I received a copy of this book in a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review. I got to page 54 and just could not continue this novel. The different font treatments are aggravating and sometime the font is so small it is hard to read the text. The story just did not grab me enough to continue. Although this novel was not for me; it doesn't mean that it is not for you. This novel is about the life of a 12 year old whose parents are divorced and he is asked to live with another family ...more
Jenn S.
Dec 05, 2014 Jenn S. rated it really liked it
Shelves: review-requested
This is a well written novel with a very human element entwined within each character. It is evident there is historical research or personal experiences, or both. Moments are sad so bring your tissue box when you read this one. The elegant writing style pulls the reader in from the first page and keeps them engaged throughout the story. I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This in no way influenced my opinion.
Oct 29, 2014 Kiera rated it really liked it
The Canary Room was a very engaging, and insightful book. I found myself immediately immersed in the story, and excited to see what would happen next. I would recommend this book to anyone that is looking for a good relaxing read.
Jun 29, 2015 Nancy rated it it was ok
I won this in a Goodreads giveaway.
I really tried to get used to the strange font changes and back and forth narrative. Attempting to do so made reading for pleasure a bit too complicated and I gave up a little past the half way point.
Lena Mingis
Nov 01, 2016 Lena Mingis rated it did not like it
Shelves: first-reads
Couldn't finish the book. It was awful and confusing.
Jan 20, 2015 Wendy rated it liked it
Recommended to Wendy by: Goodreads Giveaways
Shelves: historical
"The Canary Room" which I won through Goodreads Giveaways is a compelling, historically- based novel that begins in 1945 when Herman "Hermy" Auerbach is fostered in the Williams' household after his parent's divorce and abandonment. Although he's consigned to the porch with dozens of canaries Hermy feels more secure in an environment where he's not being bullied or shot at by a demented uncle, and quickly bonds with eight year old Sonny, his brother Max as well as their other young boarder ...more
Linda Munro
Jun 27, 2015 Linda Munro rated it did not like it
I received this book via a giveaway. With this as the book description:
“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 f
Tony Parsons
Aug 18, 2015 Tony Parsons rated it really liked it
1945, Herman Hermy Auerbach, mom & dad get a divorce. Dad is off to WWII.
His mother marries a sailor & abandoned him.
He starts out by going to live with Mrs. Gladys Williams & Mr. Williams.
Left to fend for himself he moves into a place in the Pacific Northwest in which he is awaken each/every morning to the sound of canaries or other types of songbirds.
William Willy Pillton (aka Corregidor, Uncle Corey, Aunt Ide 4th husband) was arrested, questioned & is in a Boise jail awaitin
Bonnie Ferrante
Mar 27, 2015 Bonnie Ferrante rated it liked it
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 inter
Jenna DeFrei
****I won this book on Goodreads in exchange for my honest review*****

The Canary Room, set during the final months of World War II, is a heartwarming story of a 12 year old boy. Herman's personal world has become as chaotic as the rest of the world. His parents recently divorced and he's been shuffled around to various homes, in none of which he's been treated very well. Herman wonders why his parents aren't in touch, why his dad doesn't have him come visit, why his mom, who has moved to another
Novel Destination
Jun 07, 2015 Novel Destination rated it really liked it
Edwin F. and Linda Casebeer's novel "The Canary Room" stretches the reader's abilities. Initially, I was put off by all the different font and print styles. Some parts indented and italicized, some words in bold, fairly leaping off the page, double-spaced and single-spaced. I put the book down after two chapters. I tried to read another book but I could not stop thinking about a young boy, named Herman, who is trying to make sense of where he is, what will become of him, and the changes WW2 has ...more
Jun 07, 2015 Laraine rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book on First Reads. I really wanted to like this book but I found it a bit of a challenge at the beginning to get into. The young man who the book is about, Herman, has a very interesting voice. Normal text is when things that are happening are happening now, italics text is when he is remembering things from his past and bold text appears to be what he is thinking. It takes a while to get into this rhythm, but I perservered and found the book to be a not too bad read. Reading about ...more
Jun 02, 2015 Rebecca rated it it was ok
Shelves: first-read
First of all thank you to Goodreads for this book, I received it in exchange for my honest review of the book and what can I say, I always like winning a book!

The Canary Room is about a young boy at the end of WWII and his trials and travails being a young boy of a divorced family who tries to find his place in a confused world with a family who isn't his.

I was at odds with this book, the formatting really threw me for a loop in a way that I really had a hard time getting over. I was ok with t
Jan 14, 2015 Janell rated it liked it
I received The Canary Room as part of a giveaway through Goodreads. The authors use a very different style in this book –in particular placing main character 'Herman's' thoughts in bold behind what is actually being said. While I didn't particularly hate this choice of style, it was sometimes a little confusing and difficult to decipher when the sentences became fragments and single words.

The story line of 'The Canary Room,' was interesting as a boy struggles with a number of challenges that res
Jun 09, 2015 Emilie rated it did not like it
I received this book through FirstReads and it is, in a word, unreadable. For something written by the English department chair of Purdue, I have to wonder if it's a joke. I've read enough first drafts in undergraduate workshops to know crap when I see it and the reliance on italics, bolded letters, unformatted writing and underlining is, frankly, juvenile. It's like everything you should never do when writing. Not a chapter in and I couldn't tell you a single interesting thing about the main ...more
Jun 08, 2015 Sean rated it it was amazing
I won a free copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads.

This book was really, really good!
I've read a number of World War 2 era historical fiction books, but nothing yet like this. It was very original and full of character. I felt like i'd gotten to take a glimpse back in time. Also, I'm a Pacific Northwesterner myself, so it was just kind of icing on the cake to see mention of places and locales familiar to me in a new context.

The use of bold and italic fonts in the writing did take some
Jul 19, 2015 Cindelu rated it it was ok
I won this book on Goodreads.
It was the story of a 12 year old boy in the northwest during the end of WWII. It is told from his perspective and basically includes his thoughts which I found difficult to read and disconcerting overall. It did not have a good flow and slid back and forth between times and stories. That is the main reason I gave it only two stars. I thought the story itself was interesting and the characters were real and inviting. There was a great deal of pain and dilemma experie
Jun 25, 2016 Ruth rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, first-reads
I didn't find the different fonts as confusing as some readers, but maybe that's because I read reviews prior to reading the book and was prepared. Probably would have figured it out pretty quickly though as it seems pretty obvious. I never knew Idaho was considered the Pacific Northwest. I realized that I have never given any thought to what Idaho is considered and actually pretty much never think about Idaho. I love books that take place during WWII so I was excited to get a chance to read ...more
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