That makes it a young adult book. The writing is choppy, perhaps as a young person thinks, perhaps due to the translation. The story full of emotion about things adults do not consider life and death. When families fight, when husbands or older brothers beat up their wives or sisters, when bad guys threaten to kill small store owners, our protagonist seems unperturbed. But, when her best friend doesn’t answer her letters or when her boyfriend ignores her, she’s frantic with worry.
Now, you may wonder why I’d give such a book four stars. Here are the reasons. First, the world author Elena Ferrante created is real. Children brought up in Neapolitan Italy would behave exactly as portrayed. Second, the writing is very sensitive and the characters well developed. Although the writing is simple–dumbed down for teens, perhaps– it has its moments of beauty.
The story is about a young girl growing up in the armpit of Naples Italy. The Camorra (mafioso) control the small businesses which include, small grocers, cobblers, flower sellers. This girl and her relationship with an interesting character, Lila, who is brilliant, but repressed are at the heart at the story. We are back in time, the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. The question I kept asking is what would happen to these two characters as I got to know them. My compassion for them mounted with each turn of the page.
My one complaint is the book is a bit redundant. We are told the same thing in many different ways. Some of the redundancy began to trouble me as I got deeper into the story.
Nonetheless, My Brilliant Friend is worth reading. If you want to get into the mind of a thirteen to fifteen year old, I recommend this book. It is the first in a series and I plan to keep reading more.
If you want to read another book full of emotions, try The Clock Strikes Midnight. Here’s a sneak peek.