Lucia Colombo has had her doubts about fascism for years, but as a single mother in an increasingly unstable country, politics are for other people—she needs to focus on keeping herself and her son alive. Then the Italian government falls and the German occupation begins, and suddenly, Lucia finds that complacency is no longer an option.
Francesca Gallo has always been aware of injustice and suffering. A polio survivor who lost her father when he was arrested for his anti-fascist politics, she came to Rome with her fiancé to start a new life. But when the Germans invade and the Nazis take her fiancé, Francesca decides she has only one option: to fight back.
As Lucia and Francesca are pulled deeper into the struggle against the Nazi occupation, both women learn to resist alongside the partisans to drive the Germans from Rome. But as winter sets in, the occupation tightens its grip on the city, and the resistance is in constant danger.
The appetite for WWII-era books never wanes, so don’t expect to find a shortage of them anytime soon. I finished this one in January and am of two minds on my final take.
First the pros:
- The pulse-pounding action of this debut novel had me flying through the pages. Members of the Italian Resistance duked it out with the occupying Nazis behind the scenes and on public squares. Said heroic fighters blew up buildings, attempted escape, got caught, tortured, and fell in love. The Nazis were, as always, heartless and cruel.
- The author did an excellent job developing her interesting characters. They were flawed and likeable, and I really rooted for them. Lucia and Francesca were strong female protagonists, and little Matteo was a brave and loveable little boy.
- The plot was engrossing, and the author clearly did her research. I felt happy, sad, and overjoyed.
- Audiobook fans will love the narration.
Now the cons:
- The author had an annoying tendency to repeat words near each other.
- There were some grammatical missteps (such as split infinitives) that had me wanting to edit the manuscript.
- She wrote the book as a split narrative. It would have been more effective in first-person.
- Italian phrases were used throughout, but not translated as is typical.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Release Date: April 13, 2021
Audience: Young Adult/Adult
Format Reviewed: Both audiobook and eBook
Rating: 4 Stars