Archive for June 4th, 2018


Can You Hear Me? By Elena Varvello


Ponte, a small community in Northern Italy: peaceful woods, discarded rubbish, a closed-down factory. An unbearably hot summer, like so many others–wilted flowers and trips to the waterfalls.

Elia Furenti is sixteen, living in a secluded house with his parents, a life so unremarkable that even its moderate unhappiness has been accepted as normal. Then a new friend arrives in Ponte, firmly propelling Elia to the edge of adulthood, and everything starts to unravel.

Elia’s father, Ettore, is let go from his job, and he begins to lose himself in the darkest corners of his mind. A young boy is murdered, shaking the small community to its core. And a girl climbs into a van and vanishes in the deep, dark woods . . .

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Author’s Bio

Elena Varvello was born in Turin, Italy, in 1971, and grew up in a small village in the woods not far from her birthplace.

As a child, she was always reading and writing, and dreaming of becoming a writer. There was a time when she also dreamed of becoming a singer and a musician. She was a solitary child, books and music her greatest friends.

In 1996 Elena completed a Master Degree in Creative Writing at the Scuola Holden in Turin. Back then she was writing poems and her first short stories.

Since 1999 she has been teaching Creative Writing at the same school, feeling grateful of the opportunity to work with dozens of students on their own short stories and novels.

She has published two collections of poetry, Perseveranza è salutare and Atlanti, a collection of short stories, L’economia delle cose (nominated for the Premio Strega, the Italian equivalent of the Man Booker Prize, winner of the Settembrini Award and the Bagutta Opera Prima Award), and two novels, La luce perfetta del giorno and La vita felice, now translated into English as Can you hear me? (English PEN Award 2017), soon to be published in the UK, USA, France, Spain and Poland.

She still lives in that small village in the woods with her husband, their two sons and a dog.

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My Review

4 Stars

It is the summer of 1978 in Northern Italy in a small community. Elia Furenti is sixteen years old and living in relatively secluded area. As far as he knows everything at home is normal for everyone. But then Elia meets a new friend which sets up a coming of age story for Elia and the realization that his father is a monster.

Ettore, Elia’s father, has recently lost his job, normally a hard enough situation but when you add in mental illness it makes everything that much more difficult. Ettore abducts a girl and takes her into the woods. Ettore is suffering from bipolar disorder and it is going to come crashing down on the family.

I have to be honest, I really didn’t know where this book was going after reading the blurb. I thought it was going to be a high tension thriller but it was not. It’s a simple read of the author looking back at a turning point in their childhood. It’s about how one family has secrets, sometimes bad ones, and how each person deals with them

This is a simple read, one can easily get through it in one or two sittings. It’s a good read but nothing super thrilling.

I received a complimentary copy of this book. I voluntarily chose to rea and post an honest review.

I would like to thank Quercus for the opportunity to read and share this book.

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