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.
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 that you get caught up in. Does Hermy find himself? What happened to his dad?
I enjoyed the history that the book included, as well as the slang from the past. It had a Leave it to Beaver quality to it. Simpler times, but yet a harsh past. At the William's house is was Leave it to Beaver but in the world outside it was hard, rough, and bullying.
The ending kind of hinted at book #2. I hope this is true, I'd love to read more.