More of a novella than a novel. A quick read and a very good one at that. A coming of age story, set in 1960, about a boy in the Neapolitan neighborhood of Montedidio (“God’s Mountain” - the Italian title for this book) who leaves school to work in a shop with a local cabinet maker in order to help earn money to help his poverty stricken family. In the shop, he befriends a shoemaker - a Jewish refugee and Holocaust survivor named Rafaniello, who does not know how old he is said to “sprout wings” for a blessed few. He has also befriended Maria, his thirteen year old neighbor who is much more wise than he, and together they begin to explore the first steps into adolescence.
This is best symbolized by the boy’s wooden boomerang which he receives from his father as a birthday gift, something he is constantly practicing to throw, building his strength, but never actually throwing it, “letting go” of it, that is until New Year’s Eve when things begin to happen - or seem to, anyway.
A story such as this is usually in danger of becoming saccharine and perhaps just a little too sweet, but De Luca manages to tell this tale without falling into that trap. It’s a heartfelt story, one that is very easy to relate to, regardless of where one may have been raised.
Rating: * * * *