Thursday, February 4, 2016

"An Italian Adventure" by Gaia B. Amman

An Italian Adventure:
It will all make (less) sense when you grow up
(Italian Saga Book 1)
by Gaia B. Amman

An Italian Adventure is the first book in Gaia B. Amman's Italian Saga series. Also available: Out of the Nest (NEW RELEASE).

An Italian Adventure is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.

A humorous coming of age tale of friendship, sisterhood, and family drama set against the gorgeous backdrop of northern Italy. Recommended for fans of Jandy Nelson, John Green, Neil Gaiman and Sherman Alexie.
Italy, the late 80s. Leda is a bookish tomboy whose life is turned upside down by shady Nico, who just moved north from Sicily. Their unlikely friendship will evolve through a whirlwind of adventures leaving both kids transformed. Ultimately, Leda will discover that adults aren’t always right, marking the end of childhood and the beginning of everything else.
Recommended for ages 13 and above. Some swearwords, mostly in Italian.
An Italian Adventure is the first book in The Italian Saga, a series of books following the same characters throughout their life. The books are humorous and irreverent, yet insightful dealing with themes like family, sexuality, abuse, friendship, love, and self-discovery against the gorgeous backdrop of Northern Italy.

Book Video


Praise for the Book
"Insightful and funny, I loved it!" ~ Paul Schwartzmeyer, author of the Traitor Patriot series
"Touching and skillful, a masterful execution!" ~ Neil Daniel, author of the Obeahman's Dagger
"I could not stop reading and can't wait for more!" ~ Amy Joslyn, librarian and children's literacy advocate
"A charming and thoughtful read! I loved how the detailed descriptions really put you there. It is a sweet story that makes you think about everything you encountered when growing up. You really transport yourself back in time asking yourself how much things, places and people changed in the ongoing process of growing up. Gaia's writing is fresh and comical. The first few chapters definitely had me bellying up with laughter. I can't wait for volume 2!" ~ C. Cedano
"This is a wonderfully written book and real hook. You're literally in the mind of Leda, with all the fears, doubts, wants, likes and dislikes of a girl growing up in Italy. If you would have told me that I'd be drawn into the life of a twelve year old girl I would have told you, 'you're nuts'. I would HIGHLY recommend this book for any man with daughters for no better reason than you'll learn what goes on in the mind of a 12 year old girl. Quite honestly, it blew me away." ~ Mike

My Review

By Lynda Dickson
Set in the small town of Arese, in northern Italy, from 1987 to 1989, An Italian Adventure tells the story of tomboy Leda (better known as Lee) in her final years of elementary school. Lee will do anything to please her father; she even wants to be a boy because her father wanted a son. Struggling with her identity as a female, Lee hangs around in gangs with boys. She also struggles with bullying by her schoolmates and her older sister Viola. These are the adventures of a group of friends, everyday incidents spun into amusing anecdotes and interspersed with Lee's poignant prayers. It recounts the innocent pleasures of riding a bike with friends, playing pranks on teachers, and summer holidays with the family; but it also conveys the angst of dealing with best friends, school, family problems, the neighbors from hell, and first love.
An Italian Adventure gives us an interesting look at Italian culture: drinking at sixteen, incessant smoking by women, mothers giving up work to raise the children, school on Saturdays, formal Sunday family lunches, and the ever-present Nutella. There are also some fun references to the movies, music, television, books, and video games of the 1980s. However, this is also a time filled with Catholic guilt; when First Communion, confession, Confirmation, and attending church every Sunday are standard practice, and where talking about sex is taboo.
Lee tells her story as a reminiscence, allowing the author to use vocabulary that is too advanced for the narrator's age (some of the words I had never even heard before). The author also writes some beautiful lines and descriptive passages. Being told from a position of hindsight, the narrative is full of foreshadowing, keeping the reader interested from chapter to chapter. The writing does contains some errors, especially in sentence construction and misuse of prepositions, indicating that English is not the author's first language. However, rather than detracting from the writing, this quirk lends charm and authenticity to the tale.
The book ends with a lot of unanswered questions, especially in relation to Lee's family members. I don't know if they will be answered in the next instalment or if, like Lee, we aren't meant to know. After all, kids are often not privy to the goings-on of the adults in their lives.
Includes discussion questions at the end.
Absolutely delightful. I can't wait to read the next one.

About the Author
Gaia B. Amman was born and raised in Italy. She moved to the United States in her twenties to pursue her PhD in molecular biology. She’s currently a Professor of biology at D’Youville College in Buffalo, New York, where she was voted "the professor of the month" by her students. Her research and commentaries have been published in prestigious peer-reviewed international journals including Nature.
A bookworm from birth, she wrote throughout her childhood and won two short story competitions in Italy in her teens. Gaia is an avid traveler and many of her adventures are an inspiration for her fiction. Mostly she is passionate about people and the struggles they face to embrace life. Her highest hope is to reach and help as many as she can through her writing as well as her teaching. She authored the Italian Saga, an irreverent series of humorous and insightful young adult novels taking place against the gorgeous backdrop of Northern Italy. The books, light-hearted and funny at first sight, deal with issues like sexuality, divorce, friendship, abuse, first love and self discovery.

Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of Out of the Nest: An Italian Summer (Italian Saga Book 2) by Gaia B. Amman (US only).