Friday, May 11, 2018

All The Way to Italy by Flavia Brunetti: A Review

BOOK TITLE: All the Way to Italy: A modern tale of homecoming through generations past

AUTHOR: Flavia Brunetti

ISBN/ASIN: ENTER ISBN

GENRE: Women's Fiction / YA Fiction

NUMBER OF PAGES: 222

FORMAT:Digital / Mobi

SERIES / STANDALONE: Standalone

HOW I GOT THIS BOOK: I thank iRead Book Tours for this review copy.

SUMMARY:

Until her dad died, Little considered herself a Californian. Now, thanks to half a letter, a symbol she can’t quite remember, and writer’s block, she finds herself back in Italy, the country of her birth. In a headlong rush to return to her beloved San Francisco, Little will journey throughout Italy, hoping to find the answers she needs to move on with her life so she need never look back. She’ll enlist the help of the woman who raised her, Sira, her father’s sister; but Sira has secrets she’s kept for decades, and Little underestimates the power of the country she fled years before.

In this powerful story of mixed cultures in a world trying to globalize, one girl’s struggle to leave her home behind will lead her back to the women in her family and the memories each of them has safeguarded through the generations. From war-torn Italy to the belpaese of today, All the Way to Italy is a tale for those in search of a balance between wanderlust and the necessity to come home, a reminder that although we may be fragments, we are never a lost cause.

FIRST IMPRESSION:

With the cover, and the blurb, the book had chosen to portray feelings everyone will relate with, and boy, has it been done well! All The Way to Italy, with its blue toned cover, random objects (that have been associated with romance and an old timey wanderlust since forever) arranged with cute animations, managed to pique my curiosity and interest. With its carefully chosen words, the blurb made picking up the book a no-brainer. From the first two elements, the book promised to be a piece of fiction talking about women and their secrets and travels - an interesting premise by itself, without bringing the romance into the picture. But with all those elements present, the book promised to be an unforgettable ride. REVIEW:

Migration has always done humans a mixture of good and bad, making the heart heavy with the familiarity left behind, while stimulating the brain with the opportunities that lay ahead. But with newer generations, the roots are tucked in deeper, making them a little easier to forget, and making it also easier to adapt to the new culture that feels more familiar and home-like than the original home at the root ever was. But some life changing events warrant tough decisions, and sometimes the answers to life's most puzzling questions may lie with what may be considered one's forgotten roots. Little is facing such a situation, and in her case, it becomes a series of life changers that involve secrets, revelations, emotional upheavals and the story of strong people who had shaped her directly and indirectly in many ways over the course of her life.

Revisiting Italy after her father's death, Little feels out of place, torn between the American culture she has gotten comfortable with, and the Roman roots she has in her blood. When a child is taken to an entirely new country and culture in the formative years, it takes a lot of convincing to feel a sense of belonging to the home country, while constantly being the alien in the country they had chosen to make their lives in. Little faces and expresses this dilemma very well, including the familiar but fake sense of comfort in the American life, but also the impossibly alluring life in Italy that is everything she must have had. The wounds in the present have causes in the past, sometimes going years backwards, and unless these causes are found and removed, the wounds may never heal. Soon into her life in Italy, Little realises that her life was not devoid of secrets, and her family holds a few shattering secrets that, when unearthed, would both test her resolve and beliefs and make her find strength inside herself.

The book drew me in from page one. Though I took my breaks in between to reflect on the words that had made an impact on me (and there were quite a few wonderful quotes that I would remember for some time to come), I could feel connected with the book throughout the whole time, even when I was not reading it. The writing style is descriptive and verbose and it draws the reader in and makes them hungry for more description about the place, and the culture that it is based out of. Almost all books, in some ways, make us remember a part of them in vivid detail, but there are a few which bring before us the place and the characters, alive and active. The novel was full of characters who had their own places in the story, not just as placemarkers. But with each woman the reader encountered, a layer was revealed in the intricate plot that leans heavily on human emotions, and descriptions.

The story has to hook the reader from the first, but if the beauty of the prose does not appeal to the reader, the story cannot hold the interest all the way through. The book could be termed a long one, leaning on descriptions more than the story, and the writing at places feels like it was keeping up with the descriptive nature, instead of adding much of value. If read in a flow, and with the reader engrossed in the book, this is a treat for the words it uses. WHAT I LIKED:
  • The 'Top Ten Points You’ll Hear Most Often If You Grew Up With Sira (Or, How to Survive Life)' part got me hooked to the book, and made me wish I could print it out and stick it somewhere I can read every day.
  • Special Mention to the Fragments from the Belpaese (the article section. I read it thrice, will read it many more times because it struck a chord.
  • The emotions, the writing and the way the story was taken forward, so that the pages were turned but the act never conscious, are all huge pluses for the book.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER:
  • As the name suggests, this book is also a guide to many things Italian. If you have a particular dislike for this kind of books, this is not for you.
  • The overall pace of the story can be termed as slow and reflective. For some readers this might seem like a dragging book.
  • The writing is consistent, but leaning towards a particular style, and if it does not draw you into it in the first few pages, the whole book will be similar.
VERDICT:

Overall a book I thoroughly enjoyed, and would read in parts again.

RATING: 4/5

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Born just outside of Rome, Flavia Brunetti grew up bouncing back and forth between Italy and California, eventually moving back to the Eternal City and confirming her lifelong commitment to real gelato. Flavia holds a Master of Arts degree in Government and Politics from St. John’s University and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from John Cabot University. Today she travels the world working for an international humanitarian organization and spends her free time writing and wandering around her beloved Roma in constant search of bookstores and the perfect espresso. You can find her city blog on Rome at whichwaytorome.com and her portfolio of published writing at flaviinrome.com.



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