Can You Hear Me?

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - FILM MAKER - by Elena Varvello, Ha­chette.

Ponte, North­ern Italy – a small, run­down town has its un­re­mark­able en­vi­ron­ment in­ter­rupted dur­ing the sti­fling hot sum­mer of 2016, when a lit­tle boy is mur­dered. In the re­mote home of 16-year-old Elia Furenti, lives are also un­rav­el­ling and se­crets are threat­en­ing to rise to the sur­face. As Elia’s fa­ther de­scends into the abyss of men­tal ill­ness, his de­cline is shielded by the un­wa­ver­ing love of his wife. In the in­tro­duc­tion to this stun­ning novel about men­tal ill­ness, fam­ily se­crets and the way un­con­di­tional love can blind us from the truth, Ital­ian au­thor Elena Varvello re­veals that writ­ing the story was a way to deal with her re­la­tion­ship with her own bipo­lar fa­ther. In­ter­est­ingly though, we dis­cover the book’s pro­tag­o­nist is a 16-year-old boy. The re­sult is a sparse, but poignant ex­plo­ration into the depth of emo­tion and con­fu­sion ex­pe­ri­enced by ado­les­cent boys, ex­pressed, as they do, with the least words pos­si­ble. As the sus­pense un­folds, it is not anx­i­ety I felt as a reader but still­ness. Pain is treated here, not as an emo­tion to fear, but to be ob­served un­der the stun­ning mi­cro­scope of Elena’s prose.

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