Book review: Io e te

I decided to read Io e te (You and Me) by Italian author Niccolo’ Ammaniti after both of my sons read it and urged me to do the same. Years ago, I loved reading Ammaniti’s novel Io non ho paura (I’m not afraid). Unfortunately, I read other Ammaniti novels and his short story collection and was far less impressed.

Like Io non ho paura, Ammanti did what I feel he does best – he got into the mindset of a young boy, and truly captured his voice, his fears and his insecurities.

Lorenzo is a 14-year-old boy living in Rome. Instead of heading off with friends on a ski holiday in Cortina, as he’s told his parents he was doing during the winter holiday, Lorenzo stocks up on junk food and comic books, planning to hide out for a week in his condominium’s basement.

Well-placed calls to his mother about all the fun he’s having on the slopes are meant to set her at ease while Lorenzo enjoys his solitude. After all, most of his life has been spent avoiding other people.

But a surprise visitor to the basement will radically change Lorenzo’s plans, and will serve as an important reminder years later.

I enjoyed Ammaniti’s writing, his ability to get so convincingly into the mind of Lorenzo. As a reader, I felt a deep sense of unease as I observed the delicate balancing act teenaged Lorenzo is living, trying to conform to his parent’s ideas about how he should behave and who he should be, while constantly holding in his true feelings. This was a quick and enjoyable read. I’m glad my children recommended it, and that I gave Ammaniti’s novels another try.

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