Context: read while I was suffering from the worst cold I’ve had in years.
It begins with the discovery, by young Michele, of something horrific which is all his own secret. But he’s mistaken and what he thinks is horrific is much, much worse. To cap it all, it’s not a secret at all.
Written in melodic prose from the perspective of a young child, this Italian novel has one of the best endings of a novel you could wish for. That’s not all though; it’s captivating right from the start. I read it in one sitting (well, lying actually as I was in bed with a horrible cold). I don’t think I’m the only person who will have read this in one go.
I’ve not read a novel from the rural south of Italy before and I really appreciated the way that Ammaniti brings the countryside to life along with the characters. Despite there being inches of snow on the ground outside, I felt hot as he described the brutal summer heat.
The importance of the novel lies in the way that Michele’s world changes from the opening to the ending. One by one all his values are challenged. I think Ammaniti has achieved this very well. The novel is well titled as the book is really about fear and how we handle our fears as we grow. Michele starts out fearing monsters, bullies, his parents, even his own reactions. But he deals with each of these fears in various ways throughout the novel and I liked the way Ammaniti gave him different strategies for overcoming each of the fears he faces.
Good novel to start the year with!
I was just about to overtake Salvatore when I heard my sister scream.
I was worse than Judas who had bartered Jesus for thirty pieces of silver. With thirty pieces of silver just think how many [Subbuteo football] teams you could buy.
And there was me.
rubbish | poor | mediocre | okay | good | very good | excellent | superb