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.
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