by Elena Ferrante
My husband bought me this book as a gift, and I’ve been meaning to read it for the last few years. It did not disappoint. I knew I would love it. It is literary fiction in a coming of age story by an Italian author. It takes place in post World War II Naples in an impoverished and violent neighborhood. It is the story of two little girls (Lenu and Lila) growing up together and their compelling and intricate relationship. It is told from the point of view of Lenu, looking back on her childhood from the adult version of herself. I happen to love coming of age books that are told from an adult perspective. They enable the character to bring so much more insight and reflection on their early years and choices.
What I found particularly interesting about this novel was the time period and setting. I happen to be Italian American and one portion of my family is from the Naples area. Even though I grew up in America, I sometimes would see pieces of my own childhood in this book. I also found it really interesting that the entire book is about a friendship. It is a powerful one. These girls definitely have influence over each other. It is heartbreaking at times to realize the limitations of their present and future choices. They turn to education, hence the name of the book. They are both brilliant in their own way, competing and pushing each other to figure out how to rise above their circumstances.
I can’t wait to continue with the second book in the series. I am now hooked! I’m also looking forward to watching the television adaptation, which I hear is very well done.