Title: An Italian Adventure (The Italian Saga #1)Author: Gaia B Amman
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Italy, the late 80s. Leda is a bookish tomboy whose life is turned upside down by shady Nico, who just moved north from Sicily. Their unlikely friendship will evolve through a whirlwind of adventures leaving both kids transformed. Ultimately, Leda will discover that adults aren't always right, marking the end of childhood and the beginning of everything else.
Recommended for ages 13 and above. Some swearwords, mostly in Italian.
The book is the first in a series following the same characters throughout their life.
I could not put this book down for the life of me. I felt my eyes growing heavy so instead of laying down I sat upright on the couch and opened my eyes really wide so I could get to a good stopping point. (There are no good stopping points because all I wanted to do was keep on reading until I got to the end). There are quite a few good quotes throughout this book as well.
I honestly didn't expect to like this book as much as I did, because when I first started I couldn't believe how naive Lee was, but I also had to keep in mind she was barely nine years old and we were all annoying at one time or another, if not still annoying. ;) She deals with quite a bit of inner issues with herself, mainly wishing she had been a boy named Alessandro and constantly feeling like she has to prove to her gang of nothing but boys that she isn't just a "little girl" but in fact strong, fierce, and a leader.
Too often this leads them into a lot of shenanigans like mountain biking on normal bikes, a near-death experience involving a tumble from a very tall tree, among other hilarious yet poignant experiences that only made me look back on my childhood with fondness. This book actually made me recant my childhood adventures with my "gang" of friends and all of the trouble we used to get into and all of the fun times, arguments and tears, and other emotions we all had to endure when we were coming-of-age. Even though the synopsis says it's good for children ages 13 and above, I believe every adult should read this as well so we can reflect and remember what it was like to be a kid so we don't lose sight of it.
Being set in the late 80s in Italy, there is quite a bit of talk about what girls are supposed to do and what they're not supposed to do, which is the bane of Lee's existence. All of the characters have their own very distinct characteristics, but I love Lee's character most of all. She's described as a "bookish tomboy." She a daredevil of the highest sorts, never backing down from a challenge (with the exception of her older sister who she seeks contact approval from), as well as being incredibly wise for her young age. Even though she doesn't understand a lot of things older people do, she feels things much deeper than any ten year old normally would.
I can honestly say the only bad opinion I have about this book is the fact that I absolutely despised Lee's dad. He has his good days, like when Lee and him are alone, but any other time he just gets on my nerves. I hope I find out why he is the way he is when I read the other books, because I really need more insight so I don't feel like I'm judging a character unfairly.
I gave this book 5 hearts! I will forever recommend this until the end of my days. Had me belly-laughing, rooting for the characters, and deep in thought for how much sense this book made. Amman perfectly captured the troubles of growing up.
A strange smell exuded from the secret basement, of something old, worn out, and forgotten. Strangely, as I stared at it, I got the feeling that rather than light seeping inside through the crack, a beam of darkness, dust, and silence spilled out on the cement. I pushed my head through the slit in between the gate’s doors, peering inside and holding my breath.
Nothing: dark, dark, dark and quiet.
Nico whispered, “Is there someone inside?”
I shrugged. “It’s dark, I don’t think so.”
The light from the opening above and below my head had carved away a slice from the dark, revealing a grey concrete floor on which my shadow lay. Right on the edge of the gray light there seemed to be something, maybe old desks, stacked chairs?
I gathered all my courage, wanting to look brave in the eyes of my friends, and for some reason wanting to impress Nico. I was no chicken! I stepped into the secret basement.
The other three asked from outside, “What do you see?”
“It’s pitch black, Guys. It’s impossible to see the back wall.”
I swallowed entranced by a very bad feeling, remembering the Nothing that had swallowed Fantasia in The Neverending Story, one of my favorite books ever. Maybe this was where the Nothing fled after Atreyu and Bastian kicked its butt.
Nico chuckled. “Do you think that there is a back wall?”
I answered, “I’m gonna find out,” and took one step forward. They laughed nervously at my bravado. So, I took another step into the unknown.
Flavio whispered alarmed, “Lee, come on! You made your point, come back!”
I took another step, feeling the eyes of my buddies resting on my back. Their distress turned into excitement. “What do you see? How is it? What’s there?”
Truth be told, I couldn’t see a thing. I just focused on crawling forward with my arms stretched in front of my body to feel for the wall or possible obstacles, none of which seemed to come. The cold engulfing me made me even more aware of the sweat beading on my face. My heart was pounding.
I started to be able to tell the outline of huge piles of unidentified, luckily inanimate, objects stacked so high they might have reached the ceiling, if I could have seen one.
My senses were on edge, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was something lurking in the darkness, ready to pounce as much as I was.
When I lurched into something cold I immediately withdrew my arms letting out a scream.
Flavio yelled, “EVERYTHING OKAY?”
I pondered, nothing was moving. I reached out with my hands and found the end wall. I yell-whispered, “Yeah! I made it! I found the end!”
My heart exulted as my friends celebrated. “Yippee! You rock, Lee!”
Everything happened within a couple of seconds. A sudden thump came from my left and I screamed again, as my friends went suddenly quiet and still. My adrenaline, which was already quite high, skyrocketed bathing me in a warm wave.
I turned to run toward the door for my dear life. I moved my feet as fast as I could in a frenzy of certainty that whatever was audibly moving not too far from me was going to grab one of my ankles at any moment to drag me into the Nothing forever.