Gaia B Amman was born and raised in Italy. She moved to the United States in her twenties to pursue her PhD in molecular biology. She's currently a Professor of biology at D'Youville College in Buffalo, New York, where she was voted "the professor of the month" by her students. Her research and commentaries have been published in prestigious peer-reviewed international journals including Nature.
A bookworm from birth, she wrote throughout her childhood and won two short story competitions in Italy in her teens. Gaia is an avid traveler and her fiction is often inspired by her life adventures. She is mostly passionate about people and the struggles they face to embrace life. Her highest hope is to reach and help as many as she can through her writing as well as her teaching. She authored the Italian Saga, an irreverent series of humorous and insightful young adult novels taking place against the gorgeous backdrop of Northern Italy.
Among her favorite authors are J.K. Rowling, Jandy Nelson, Neil Gaiman, Chuck Palahniuk, Kurt Vonnegut, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Antoine de Saint Exupèry.
The Italian Saga is an addictive series of books following the same characters throughout their life doing all the things they thought they never would while searching for happiness.
The main character of the series is Leda, a bookish tomboy. She grows up in Italy in the 80s and 90s showing the reader a disarmingly honest portrait of a country most people think they know; a world where superstition, religion, and sensuality mix in an unlikely combination.
Book one, "An Italian Adventure, It Will All Make Less Sense When You Grow Up" is a romp through childhood, family, adventures, and friendship. Book two, "Out of the Nest, An Italian Summer" takes place on the summer of 1990 when the 14th FIFA soccer world cup took place in Italy and it's a book about first crushes and first kisses. Book three, "Forget Nico, Falling for the Wrong Italian" is a heartfelt recount of a tormented love story in the context of teen angst, loneliness and insecurity. Book four, likely to be released at the end of 2016, will be titled "Sex-O-S, the Tragicomic Recount of an Italian Surviving her First Time" and it addresses the emotional and physical experience of a teenager figuring out her own sexuality.
The books, at first sight lighthearted and humorous, delve into problematic topics including divorce, abuse, sexuality, bullying, eating disorders, and many other issues plaguing young adults and not nearly talked about enough in our society. The beautiful descriptions ranging from the serene northern countryside to landmark places like Cinque Terre, the Alps, Milan, Padua, the Tuscan hills, and the unbelievable island of Sardinia take the reader for a journey they will likely never forget. Recommended to everyone thirteen and up with a fair warning: the books describe life through a candid lens and are not for the prudish. Also, there are some swearwords, but they are mostly in Italian (although the books are written in English).
Some quotes from the books:
"For every adult was once a child, some linger within."
"At fourteen I felt like a black hole. Nothing could be seen from the outside, I reflected no light. A huge bulk of feelings and emotions had imploded into a very small, heavy place, roiling with angst and loneliness. Still I could feel a relentless will to be happy scratching at the deepest corners of my soul."
"He removed his hands from my eyes.
Our eyes communicate straight to our brains, but sometimes what we are looking at is so much to take in that our neurons cannot fit it all in. So they spill all over our heart, filling it to the brim with wonder and emotions. Mine almost exploded.
As I opened my eyes, starved from any input, I found myself in a big lawn, nestled among the Tuscan hills, immersed in the biggest swarm of fireflies I could have ever imagined. The little whimsical beings, flickered playfully around us, lighting up the night in a party that felt as magical as private."