Life has been a little too busy, and sadly, I’ve gotten a bit behind on this blog. I hope to remedy that. I haven’t read as much lately, but I also just need to post the ones I have read. This one is another book group pick and yet another good World War II story. This one takes place in Italy which was a little different, and although it is fiction, it was based on a true story.
Pino Lella was a typical seventeen-year-old boy from Milan interested in girls and music when the book begins. He has to grow up quickly, however, when his home in Milan is destroyed in one of the bombings. Pino goes to stay at a church where the priest has him climb the mountains every day. Little does he realize that he is being trained to help Jews escape over the mountains. Once he has mastered the mountains, he is entrusted with guiding the Jews and Allied soldiers across treacherous areas of the Alps. As the war progresses, his parents worry that he will be sent off to the Russian front and killed, so they make him join the German army as a safer option. Through a fateful event, he ends up being the driver for powerful, high-ranking German General Hans Leyers who was responsible for overseeing slaves who were often worked to death building military fortifications. Pino is very conflicted about his position in the German army, but he uses it to gather information, acting as an undercover spy.
I usually don’t like reading books this long, but I found the book so compelling that I didn’t mind. The author did an excellent job developing the story (and there is so much more than what’s in the summary) and all the various characters. This is a truly fascinating story, and I once again learned a little more about the war. My only complaint about the book, and it’s minor, is that many times seemed contrived where Pino just happened to be at the scene to witness a significant event. I believe the incidents all occurred, but find it hard to believe he was always present at the time.
My Rating: 4.5 Stars