Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Fiction Coming Of Age

The Case of Lena S.

by (author) David Bergen

McClelland & Stewart
Initial publish date
Sep 2003
Coming of Age, Family Life, Literary
  • Paperback / softback

    Publish Date
    Sep 2003
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


The Case of Lena S. follows the life, loves, and coming-of-age of sixteen-year-old Mason Crowe during a year in which he will learn what it truly means to be in the world. At the centre of the novel is Lena, a troubled girl who has “chosen” Mason and will teach him something of desire and despair. Impulsive, provocative, vulnerable, and sad, Lena becomes haunting for Mason in ways he does not always understand. We meet Mason’s first “love,” an older girl destined for an arranged marriage; his mother, who takes a lover; and a wise and erudite blind man with a voyeuristic streak, to whom Mason reads. Playful, and with deadpan humour, the novel brilliantly captures the yearnings of youth, as well as the tantalizing possibilities and the confounding absurdities that sometimes lie at the heart of our most intimate relationships.

About the author

DAVID BERGEN is an award-winning author of seven previous novels and a collection of short stories. A Year Of Lesser was a New York Times Notable Book, and The Case of Lena S. was a finalist for the Governor General's Award for Fiction. In 2005, Bergen won the Giller Prize for The Time in Between. His sixth novel, The Matter With Morris, was shortlisted for the Giller Prize in 2010, won the Carol Shields Winnipeg Book Award and the Margaret Laurence Award for Fiction, and was shortlisted for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. The Age Of Hope was a #1 bestseller and a finalist for Canada Reads 2013. Bergen lives with his family in Winnipeg.

David Bergen's profile page


  • Nominated, Governor General's Literary Award

Editorial Reviews

“It is impossible not to compare David Bergen’s new novel to the work of Richard Ford.….A magical piece of writing. . . . It is taut, affecting and lovely, one of those wonderful works that bears reading and rereading and that in its hard crystalline prose does everything right.”
Calgary Herald
“A heart-breaking account of an adolescent adrift in a world with no boundaries.… This novel is the best yet from a writer who specializes in that rare novelistic skill these days, the depiction of character. In this case, Bergen’s evocation of the innocent joined with the sinister is unforgettable.”
Toronto Star
“Enthralling.… A trenchant and thought-provoking work of fiction.”
Winnipeg Free Press
“A deeply beautiful book.”
Edmonton Journal
“Compelling.… An exploration of the quiet desperation of teenagers on the edge of adulthood.…”
Globe and Mail
“David Bergen sounds nary a false note in his latest precise, challenging novel.”
Toronto Star
“Bergen’s story of 16-year-old Mason Crowe explores the mystery of coming of age: how it happens and, equally important, what happens when the process goes awry.”
Hamilton Spectator
“Bergen’s psychological portraits are accurate and passionately observed.”
–Jury citation, Governor General’s Awards

“His excellent writing [has] piquancy and nuance.…”
Quill & Quire

“Spare, lucid, haunting and overlaid with melancholy. . . . It’s a terrific performance.… Bergen is simply too good and too clear-eyed a writer to ever circle around the truth of his subject. His subject here, the emotional and physical lives of teenagers, is revealed as both sad and perplexing.… A deeply beautiful book.”
Edmonton Journal
“Goes well beyond the traditional coming-of-age chronicle to pose problems of loss and rejection and to set these questions against the uncertainties of young adulthood.… The book is well written and insightful and captures the clamour, chaos and fractured idiom of youth as it passes into adulthood. As a commentary on the priorities of the young, The Case of Lena S. ranks high indeed.”
London Free Press
“Bergen’s language flows and his descriptions are tantalizing.”

Other titles by David Bergen

Related lists