Book Review: War in My Town by E. Graziani

“For each death, in each war, there was a family shattered, a lifetime of wonder stolen, dreams unfulfilled, future generations unrealized, a story incomplete.”

Teenaged Bruna’s life is turned upside down when her small Italian village becomes the centre of fighting in the last months of the Second World War.

Bruna struggles to cope as Nazi soldiers descend to occupy their village, and she must help her mother and sisters stand up to the occupying soldiers. Her peaceful life is turned upside down by the fact that her beloved little village is now the centre of the final stage of fighting between the Allies and the Germans, the only front left defended by the Nazis in Italy. (Goodreads)

I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review and I am so grateful for the opportunity to read this brave and triumphant story about a teen’s experience during the Second World War. War In My Town by E. Graziani is a true story based on real experiences of the author’s mother.

“Nature waits for no one and young girls grow into young women, whether there is war or not.”

Most of the books I’ve read so far about this time period were focused on the Holocaust and the Nazi occupation of “non-Aryan” communities. This may be the first time that I’m seeing it from an Italian perspective.

I appreciate the concise history lessons in every chapter, because it really helped me see the bigger picture and where the small Italian village of our main character fits into. The photographs and maps also added to the holistic experience.

I loved how the author painted a quaint picture of Northern Italy during the 1940s: there was the very strict and very heteronormative education system (mainly used by the dictator to brainwash people as early as possible 🙄) but there was also a charming public washtub (lavatoio!), an abundant farming life, gorgeous scenery, delicious home-cooked food, loving families and a generous community!

I met a lot of lovable characters—and the awesome thing about it is that they’re not fictional. They were really alive and warm and happy once! There’s Alfezio (and his library), Ida, Beppina and Armida, Ferraro Ferrari, Edo, and of course Bruna and her family: her mother Matilde, and her siblings Aurelia, Cesar, Eleanora, Pina, Alcide and Mery. I fell in love with Bruna’s mom and all her strength and resiliency. How she was able to raise 7 children singlehandedly and while in the midst of a war at that is such a miracle to me.

Living in a small town is like having a very large, extended family. That is also why the destruction caused by the war was even more devastating. I was left teary-eyed on a number of chapters. This book will really make you realize that everyone is a victim during times of war, no matter what the color of your skin is or which country you are born in. This is the type of book everyone should read to never forget the beautiful souls that were sacrificed so we can have peace today. To borrow from the author’s eloquence, this book is really a testament to the triumph of the human spirit and the power of the will to live. 🌸

In photo: Bruna Maria Serafina Margherita Emilia Pucci

Overall rating: 4/5

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