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Reviewed by Lois Henderson for Readers' Favorite
From the very start of this quasi-autobiographical work, Antonia Burgato shows her deep love for the island of Sansego, surrounded by the Adriatic Sea, which was not only her birthplace but also her childhood home. Her intimate acquaintance with the place is told in such loving tones that Burgato’s warmth radiates outwards, engaging us in what she has to say. We are drawn into her world. Not only is Canaries Can’t Cry: Living with Two Flags in One Heart Burgato’s retelling of her mother’s tales about life on the island during the two World Wars, but it is also one of her own coming of age in the United States, at a time of evolving cultural icons like Elvis Presley, of radical opposition to the involvement of the country in the Vietnam War, and of the assertion of women’s rights.
Antonia Burgato’s appreciation of all things familial emerges especially strongly in her admiration for her mother, while her penchant for wide and insightful reading has made her the writer that she is today. Not only are her descriptions of scenery and interactions with others clear-cut and riveting, but she is also adept at handling dialogue, making the narrative come alive for her audience. Burgato is a born storyteller who clearly revels in her art. Canaries Can’t Cry would appeal especially to those who have a keen sense of history and place in time, as well as to the older generation of readers who feel more aligned in their thinking with the ethos of the previous century than with that of our own.