The Saxophone Winter

The Saxophone Winter
-by Robert Harlow
362 pages (1988)

Ahh…the power of suggestion! My friend was correct - what a book! Soon after I delved into The Saxophone Winter’s depths, I was unable to put the book down until I was well into it’s story. Finally I was persuaded to surface once in a while for food, potty breaks and sleep (or what little was left of that elusive thing).

What is the driving force behind this engaging novel? Sheer simplicity and the convincing thought processes of believable characters. Harlow poetically depicts the life of a 14-year-old boy growing up in a small town located in British Columbia during the winter of 1930-1931. 

The reader is quickly drawn into Christopher Waterton’s changing social environment as he undergoes his difficult and, often times, confusing metamorphosis to maturity. Throughout the novel, Christopher undergoes great change as he is confronted with life’s hurtles. Meanwhile he struggles to cover new ground – perfecting his new found interest, his saxophone; his first love (Emily Gordon); peer pressure at school; and mounting family problems – all encompassed by a changing world scene on the brink of war.

The Saxophone Winter possesses an uncluttered poignancy that makes it unforgettable. It will appeal to readers of varying ages – the young, who may be encountering similar experiences and can relate to the foreboding frontier of growing up – or the more mature, who can look back wistfully on their past as they flip through Harlow’s masterpiece.


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