Genre: YA Contemporary ((translated from Italian))
Pub. September 4 2018
International bestseller White as Milk, Red as Blood, has been called the Italian The Fault in Our Stars.
Leo is an ordinary sixteen-year-old: he loves hanging out with his friends, playing soccer, and zipping around on his motorbike. The time he has to spend at school is a drag, and his teachers are “a protected species that you hope will become extinct,” so when a new history and philosophy teacher arrives, Leo greets him with his usual antipathy. But this young man turns out to be different. His eyes sparkle when he talks, and he encourages his students to live passionately, and follow their dreams.
Leo now feels like a lion, as his name suggests, but there is still one thing that terrifies him: the color white. White is absence; everything related to deprivation and loss in his life is white. Red, on the other hand, is the color of love, passion and blood; red is the color of Beatrice’s hair. Leo’s dream is a girl named Beatrice, the prettiest in school. Beatrice is irresistible – one look from her is enough to make Leo forget about everything else.
There is, however, a female presence much closer to Leo, which he finds harder to see because she’s right under his nose: the ever-dependable and serene Silvia. When he discovers that Beatrice has leukemia and that her disease is related to the white that scares him so much, Leo is forced to search within himself, to bleed and to be reborn. In the process, he comes to understand that dreams must never die, and he finds the strength to believe in something bigger than himself.
White as Milk, Red as Blood is not only a coming-of-age story and the narrative of a school year, but it is also a bold novel that, through Leo’s monologue – at times easy-going and full of verve, at times more intimate and anguished – depicts what happens when suffering and shock burst into the world of a teenager, and the world of adults is rendered speechless.
This book was written so beautifully!! It read the translated version, from Italian to English, and I really wish I could read Italian because I’m sure it’s gorgeous in the intended language. But still.
“You’re either yourself or you’re like everyone else.”
Leo’s voice is SO YOUNG. He plays neighborhood soccer with his best friend with as much passion as he crushes on Beatrice. SO SWEET AND PURE.
Overall, this was a quick read and it reminded me of a cozy fall day with tea and an Italian film on Netflix. I was 100% in the mood.
My favorite part was 1) the gorgeous prose and Leo’s introspection, kldsjfsl he is whimsical af and 2) how the love story is portrayed as an idea rather than a concrete relationship.
I’ve been reading so many messy love stories, so to have something that basically takes place entirely in Leo’s innocent, dreamy head was new and lovely.
“Sometimes in life you feel like doing something so disconcerting that others can no longer ignore you: You want to be in the eyes and on the lips of everyone.”
Have you read The Fault in Our Stars? I haven’t, so it was hard to compare this book to John Green’s. ((I’m not a big fan of John Green, he disappointed me so much with Looking For Alaska and I never forgave himmm))