I finally finished reading this book. It took me quite a long time since I had to pause it in order to read another book, which was an assignment from school. This book, which I should have read last summer, also for school, was a surprise.
I did not think I would like it, since it is not necessarily the type of book I would go for in a bookshop. I prefer horror, psychological thrillers and such. I am glad I had to read it because I ended up enjoying it. I would not put it in my top 5, but it was a pleasant read : it is what I would generally call a “break book”, which means that it is something that I would read between two more difficult works of literature.
It is a coming-of-age book : the plot is centred around Arturo’s story, whose mother died of childbirth, and his relationship with his mostly absent father. He lives alone, besides for the small periods of time his father is home, on the island of Procida, near Naples. He is an adventurer and his biggest ambition in life is to become a man just like his father. The narrative changes when Arturo’s father brings home his new wife, who turns out to be about one year older than Arturo himself. He tries to understand this new woman, and he finds a confidante in her, but only briefly. He slowly but surely falls in love with her and he starts hating her at the same time, especially when she gives birth to his half-brother. All throughout the novel we can see and feel Arturo grow first into a teenager and then into a young man, sensing his different attitude towards his step-mother and his father; regarding his father, he starts seeing him as less of a perfect hero and more as an annoyingly normal man who is simply getting older. Another theme that characterises the novel is Arturo’s desire to flee the island and visit the world, for which he has prepared by reading an immense amount of books.
This book did leave a mark on me, just like every book I have ever read. I felt sorry for Arturo, since he had to grow up without a mother figure and with an absent father, whom he mistakenly idolises. I felt attacked, as a woman, by some of his behaviours and at the same time I wanted him to find peace and love.
Overall, I would give it a 6,5 out of 10.