Published by Lake Union Publishing on December 1st 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction
Challenge Theme: A book set in a country that fascinates you (Italy)
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Italy, 1943—Germany occupies much of the country, placing the Jewish population in grave danger during World War II.
As children, Eva Rosselli and Angelo Bianco were raised like family but divided by circumstance and religion. As the years go by, the two find themselves falling in love. But the church calls to Angelo and, despite his deep feelings for Eva, he chooses the priesthood.
Now, more than a decade later, Angelo is a Catholic priest and Eva is a woman with nowhere to turn. With the Gestapo closing in, Angelo hides Eva within the walls of a convent, where Eva discovers she is just one of many Jews being sheltered by the Catholic Church.
But Eva can’t quietly hide, waiting for deliverance, while Angelo risks everything to keep her safe. With the world at war and so many in need, Angelo and Eva face trial after trial, choice after agonizing choice, until fate and fortune finally collide, leaving them with the most difficult decision of all.
Oh this book! This will definitely be one of my favorite books I have ever read. I did NOT want to put it down. I read while standing in the shower, while brushing my teeth, on my lunch break at work, whenever & wherever I could. I tend to love books about this time in history but this is the first time I am reading about Italy during this time. It is such a heartbreaking and horrifying time but I love when I read about people who risked themselves to save others. This is what a large part of this book is about. The characters are all so complex in their own way and each have their own story to go tell throughout the book. Of course the main focus is Eva & Angelo but the author does a good job of telling other minor character’s stories as well. It just makes the book that much richer. It got you that much more invested in what the outcome would be. It is such a beautifully heartbreaking story that I dare you to not fall in love with. If I could give more than 5 starts I would!
I like to read other people’s reviews on Goodreads and when I went to read the people who gave it 1 star the main complaint was about how Angelo just threw away his vow to God & the church for Eva. While I see their point I feel like it was so much more than just “throwing” it away for her. Had the book ended any other way it may have ruined the whole story for me. This book needed a happy ending and I love how the author did it.
“They can take our homes, our possessions. Our families. Our lives. They can drive us out, like they’ve driven us out before. They can humiliate us and dehumanize us. But they cannot take our thoughts. They cannot take our talents. They cannot take our knowledge, or our memories, or our minds. In music there is no bondage. Music is a door, and the soul escapes through the melody. Even if it’s only for a few minutes. And everyone who listens is freed. Everyone who listens is elevated.”
“Fear is strange. It settles on chests and seeps through skin, through layers of tissue, muscle, and bone and collects in a soul-sized black hole, sucking the joy out of life, the pleasure, the beauty. But not the hope. Somehow, the hope is the only thing resistant to the fear, and it is that hope that makes the next breath possible, the next step, the next tiny act of rebellion, even if that rebellion is simply staying alive.”
“Life is like a long note; it persists without variance, without wavering. There is no cessation in sound or pause in tempo. It continues on, and we must master it or it will master us.”
“We are at war. War has a way of stripping us of perspective. War is about life and death, and it paints everything in shades of now or never.”
“Sand and ash. The ingredients of glass. Such beauty created from nothing. It had been something Babbo had marveled about and something she’d never understood. From sand and ash, rebirth. From sand and ash, new life. With every song and with every prayer, with every small rebellion, Eva felt reborn, renewed, and she vowed to press on. She vowed to push back, to make glass from the ashes, and that courage was a victory in itself.”
“We are all products of the places we are raised, the people who love us or have power over us, and the things we hear, over and over again, as we grow.”
“Confession: I am afraid of rejection. A rejected infant will often die, even if its basic needs are met. A rejected child will spend his whole life trying to please everyone else, and never please himself. A rejected woman will often cheat, just to feel desirable. A rejected man will rarely try again, no matter how lonely he is. A rejected people will convince themselves they deserve it, if only to make sense of a senseless world. I’m convinced there is nothing worse for the human heart than rejection.”
“Angelo does not pray the way I do. He calls his God a different name. But I’m convinced God is not just my God or Angelo’s God. He is God. He wouldn’t be God if he was only God to some of his children…would he? Whether or not his children call him by the same name. I call my father “Babbo.” Angelo refers to his father as “Papa.” Does it matter what we call him? Does it matter how we pray, if our devotion is pure, if our love for him leads us to love and serve and forgive and be better?”
“I am a man who was so impressed by the thought of immortality, of being a martyr or a saint, that I didn’t realize that by becoming a priest I was depriving myself of the very thing I sought. Our immortality comes through our children and their children. Through our roots and branches. The family is immortality.”