Can You Hear Me?
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.