Précis of Canaries Can’t Cry

Themes of rebelliousness and of love found and lost recur throughout Canaries Can’t Cry, which takes place against the backdrop of life in three languages and three cultures in one family. The novel by Antonia Burgato is written in two parts. The first part centers on a young Anita rebelling against her rigid father and her fight against a curse he had placed on her marriage. The author stitches the stories Anita told of her life on an island in the Adriatic that spans the time between the two world wars.

The second part is told in the daughter’s voice, whose rebelliousness against her mother has an uncanny similarity to Anita’s rebelliousness against her father. Both living in America, the mother clings to the old-world culture of the remote island while her daughter embraces the new world culture that spans the time between Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and George Bush—a time that comprises the social and cultural movements of the Elvis Presley phenomena, the Civil Rights uprising, and the women’s liberation.

The novel charts the course from clash of daughter and father in the old world to a clash of mother and daughter in a new world and how they reconcile their cross-cultural differences.

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