An Italian Adventure: It will all make (less) sense when you grow up (Italian Childhood novel 1, The Italian Saga) 1st Edition
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Touching and skillful, a masterful execution! --Neil Daniel, author of the Obeahman's Dagger
I could not stop reading and can't wait for more! --Amy Joslyn, librarian and children's literacy advocate
From the Author
- Grade level : 8 - 12
- Item Weight : 7.7 ounces
- Paperback : 165 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1516916204
- ISBN-13 : 978-1516916207
- Dimensions : 5.5 x 0.42 x 8.5 inches
- Publisher : CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1st edition (October 10, 2015)
- Reading level : 13 - 17 years
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,114,352 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The thing I really love about this series is that it draws no conclusions and makes no fuzzy moral statements. The reader can decide what they feel. Leda is who she is. There's real strength in this 82 pound girl , despite her disappointments, pitfalls and back steps. You'll be in love with her from the first chapter. Oh, and by the way. The book is hilarious.
If I can make a suggestion to any married woman with children, by this for your husband. It will save him and you enormous anguish. I have two very successful daughters but I really beat my head against the wall getting then there. I wish I would have known Leda 20 years ago! haha
Leda is a tomboy on the cusp of becoming a young woman. Her inner dialogue is true to that formation. She is a multi-dimensional character we can all relate to. Amman captures her development with humor and budding wisdom. Amman also has a wicked eye for sibling rivalry and handles Leda's perspective with precision, letting the mystery of her emergence from childhood to teenagedom show just the right level of tension that comes with discovery. This was a wonderfully fun well-drawn read.
While I went in with some knowledge of reviews and receptions, I tried not to paint an opinion of it beforehand.
Well, having finished it, I have one.
Let me clarify: there are things I liked and didn’t like. In this tale of youthful innocence and experience clashing in late 80s Italy, protagonist Leda comes to terms with coming to the edge of not being a kid anymore. It’s a full-motion combo of identity, relationships, heartbreak, and the passage of time; she’s twisted in and out of her feelings, both for herself and for others. What all this did for me, though, was leave a lukewarm impression. I should note that it isn’t an extremely long read, but there’s still quite a bit to remark upon.
I’ll start with the pros:
A—Italy. It took a little while to really become pronounced, but the author had a deft hand at enveloping the story in its background. From the towns, the media, the activities, and especially the landscapes, I felt like I had a glimpse into true Italian life. To say it was the 1980s, it nonetheless looked, sounded, and came across as authentic.
B—Tone. The moods are appropriate throughout, and that never really changes. I’m glad for the lack of dissonance, since it meant scenes with gravity actually had them and lighter moments were light—all’s right the world there.
C—Special shout-out to the revelation of *SPOILER ALERT just in case* the separation. I sat there thinking, “Man, I wouldn’t want to be married to this man. I’d rather be single, regardless of how taboo that would’ve been.” And there it was! Starry decided to follow her desires in spite of him putting her down, in spite of the expectations of her community.
Then there are the cons.
The biggest thing that gets me about this book is the language. I’m going to separate this into bits in order to not make a huge, ugly wall of text.
A—Style. The speaker, our hero Leda in some future time, seems to not have a consistent voice. One minute she’s speaking as though she were the smartest kid in the country, but next she’s using language a child would use with little clue of what’s really going on (one example: the use of “heck” and “darn” juxtaposed with deeper musings of how the world works and what her true feelings were, since she apparently could not understand them as a child, was jarring). It kind of comes across as the speaker dipping back into her childhood consciousness, but it jumps back and forth with no flow. I was reminded of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, though in the earliest chapters of that book, Stephen always sounded like a child.
B—Information. There are instances where the reader simply isn’t told things. Some Italian words get explained, some don’t (and I personally don’t need them explained—context does most of the illuminating). Doggy and Fuzzer have apparently been around the whole time, but I’m not told about them until nearly at and after the halfway mark, respectively. Starry and Dad’s constant fights weren’t constant. She had a computer in Ch. 28 out of nowhere.
Then I’m hit with information I don’t need. Many sections and chapters likewise start off by telling me what happened in the last, which I don’t need reiterated. Furthermore, many of the chapters end with light cliffhangers, saying things like “little did I know what would happen next/how my life was going to change.” Erased any possibility of surprise, especially when what followed wasn’t particularly interesting or life-changing.
C—Relation. Most of Leda’s relationships in the book are tense, but they were also at times not clear-cut. Why does she “venerate” Viola when she’s awful to her? Leda assures me that she does for no particular reason. Nico’s development into becoming her friend is skipped over, which was also odd, considering he’s one of the biggest influences on her. Why does her circle of friends change by the season when everyone’s in the same town? Things like this.
D—Grammar. I know I don’t speak for everyone when I say grammar and syntax can have an effect on entertainment value, and that held true for me. I found spelling, punctuation, capitalization, and grammar issues throughout the book, alongside weird choices in language; they slowed me down.
(I also kind of laughed when I saw Fist of the North instead of Fist of the North Star.)
E—Relevance. Some of the things occurring in this book…did they need to? Doggy serves to give the group a name, but Viola’s howling could’ve done that. Nico “dying” happens after Peo flies off the hill and didn’t really change anything. The *SPOILER ALERT and TRIGGER WARNING, just in case* sexual assault served no purpose in the confines of this book, besides I guess making me uncomfortable.
I think this all boils down to Leda herself, with whom I grew less interested as the book went on. She definitely comes across as one of those self-assured kids becoming less so as she realizes things aren’t as black and white as once believed. The problem for me what that she also gave me the air of a know-it-all who couldn’t believe she could be wrong unless it hit her hard. Yes, her parents are quite flawed and her sister near unbearable, but seeing the story through her eyes is one part deep perception and one part great immaturity. Her hang-ups about being a girl are apparently deep-rooted, but how many times do I have to hear her muse, Being a girl is prim and gross and I’m too “ugly” and rough to be a girl before I stop caring?
What should I expect from a precocious nine- to eleven-year-old, really?
Ultimately I couldn’t really root for her. It isn’t her flawed nature that made this tough for me (that’s the case for any real person); it’s the presentation of contrivances that make her feelings about being a girl negative, coupled with her arrogance/woeful naïveté, that were not for me. I'm going to declare this a "lukewarm feelings about it" rating.
I’ve finished the book all the same. Here I leave this review. I hope it either encourages discussion or informs future readers.
Anyone who grew up in the 70's and 80's can truly relate to Leda's story no matter where you grew up. I just ordered the recently published second book.
Top reviews from other countries
An Italian Adventure is the first book in The Italian Saga Series by Gaia B. Amman. The story is a fictionalized memoir of the author’s younger years, set against the backdrop of Italy in the 1980’s. It is so much more than I expected, and I loved reading this wonderful coming of age story full of friendship, bonds, love, dreams, adventure, discovery, hope, challenges, learning, and being true to yourself.
The story turned out to be a delightful, fun adventure. There were touching moments that warmed my heart as did the wonderful character/s, who easily pulled me into the story and took me on An Italian Adventure. The entire package, from storyline, scene setting, and well-rounded characters was entirely believable and relatable.
A lovely story that I am happy to recommend, and I look forward to reading the rest of the series!
Thank you, Ms. Amman!
The story of this little Italian girl in the eighties is so captivating and refreshing that I literary loved every single 'adventure' written in her book. I love all the references the author sapiently puts here and there into the story and how the protagonist deals with her friends and family. Leda reminds me about myself in my own green years and how as an acute and smart girl she has to live and put herself out in a still male prevalent world.
The author has a simple and direct writing style so that you can see things through Leda's eyes and this an plus not every writer gets.
I simply love everything in this book and a think this is a story for everyone, and I mean everyone. For full grown ups and for the ones today hit the same age as Leda.
I like to quote what the author writes on the first page of the book: 'For every adult was once a child, Some linger within'
There's a lot more I'd like to tell about this novel to prize it because, really, this is a rare treasure of beauty, but I don't want to spoil the story. All of you, out there, don't miss the pleasure of reading this 'An Italian Adventure'. It's worth it '– trust me.
Buy this book, read it, listens to the audible version if you really want to get the whole of it and then talk to friends about it. I highly recommend this book to everyone, and I mean everyone.
Great writing about the childhood of the author and her family and friends.
Very interesting and believable. Fiction.