White as Silence, Red as Song
Author: Alessandro D’Avenia
Publication Date: September 4th, 2018
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Synopsis: Sixteen-year-old Leo has a way with words, but he doesn’t know it yet. He spends his time texting, polishing soccer maneuvers, and killing time with Niko and Silvia. Until a new teacher arrives and challenges him to give voice to his dreams.
And so Leo is inspired to win over the red-haired beauty Beatrice. She doesn’t know Leo exists, but he’s convinced that his dream will come true. When Leo lands in the hospital and learns that Beatrice has been admitted too, his mission to be there for her will send him on a thrilling but heartbreaking journey. He wants to help her but doesn’t know how—and his dream of love will force him to grow up fast.
Having already sold over a million copies, Alessandro D’Avenia’s debut novel is considered Italy’s The Fault in Our Stars. Now available in English for the first time, this rich, funny, and heartwarming coming-of-age tale asks us to explore the meaning—and the cost—of friendship, and shows us what happens when suffering bursts into the world of teenagers and renders the world of adults speechless.
I had a really difficult time trying to figure out whether or not this book was for me, and even still, while I’m torn about it, I do have to say that White as Silence, Red as Song is definitely a beautifully written book that prompts the reader to really think about what it is that they are taking in.
I like books that make me think. I like books that truly make me appreciate life, that make me look at the simple things around me and go “Wow, I’m so glad I have this.” Even more do I love the books that give me a good appreciation for the people in my life – my husband, my daughters, my parents – all of them. White as Silence, Red as Song made me thankful that I have my family.
This book has been compared to The Fault in Our Stars. Let me say first off that I haven’t read The Fault in Our Stars, as I tend to try to avoid super hyped up books (because I always end up being the black sheep and not enjoying it as much as everyone led me to believe I would). Therefore, I really can’t compare the two, but I did think that this book had a lot of emotional parts that will leave the reader with a lot of emotions to sort through. But while I thought that it came through for the most part, with that comparison alone I kind of expected to feel a bit more? Still, it was a really good novel.
White as Silence, Red as Song is a book that I read through in one day, from start to finish, without putting it down. It’s rare that I have the ability (or the motivation) to do that with a novel, but this was on the shorter side and I kind of just pushed everything else off my plate and sat down to enjoy it.
“Everything is a color. Every emotion is a color.”
Sixteen year old Leo loves hanging out with his friends, playing soccer with them, and writing – he writes often. While he doesn’t care much for school, that all changes when a new teacher shows up and challenges the way he thinks. At first, Leo figures he will be like all the other teachers – no one of interest that would do anything influential for his life. Only Leo turns out to be wrong, because this new teacher is about to change a lot about his life.
“Beatrice is red. The easy love is red. A tempest. A hurricane that sweeps you away. An earthquake that crumbles your body to pieces. That’s how I feel every time I see her. She doesn’t know it yet, but one of these days I’ll tell her.”
Leo has a crush on a girl named Beatrice. Beatrice doesn’t pay much attention to Leo, and the two almost never talk. Until one day, Beatrice isn’t in school, and Leo finds out that she has been diagnosed with leukemia. When she comes back to school, Leo is still in love with her, and wants to tell her about it, but doesn’t get the chance to, as he is taken to the hospital due to an accident shortly after. However, Leo finds out that Beatrice is also in the hospital, and she isn’t doing very well – her cancer has come back. Leo uses this opportunity to get a closer look at Beatrice. He even gets up the nerve to write her a note telling her how he feels, but when he goes to deliver it to her, Beatrice is no longer in the hospital.
“‘A life without dreams is like a garden without flowers, but a life full of impossible dreams is like a garden full of fake flowers…'”
When Leo starts going to Beatrice’s house to see her, spending time with her, he finally gets to know the girl that he has been in love with for years. However, their time together is limited, and Leo must come to terms with the fact that Beatrice will not be around forever.
White as Silence, Red as Song is definitely an emotional read, and even thinking back on it now, there is so much happening in Leo’s life, so much he has to learn about and come to terms with, while still being a teenage boy. I really enjoyed how the story was written from Leo’s point of view, and I thought it was great to have a really clear look into his mind – what he was thinking, what he was writing, what was really making him feel the way he felt.
I did feel that Leo was a bit stalker-ish through the book at times, and he acted a bit questionably on a few occasions, but nothing bad, honestly. Just a tad…strange? His character was interesting – definitely not your cookie cutter type – he really had thoughts and emotions that I don’t think I would have seen coming, and I liked how he grew as a person through the book. I’m a huge fan of character growth, so that was a huge plus for me.
White as Silence, Red as Song is one of those books that has beautiful writing and a great story behind it, and I have to give the book a lot of praise for that. I thought it was a pretty good read, and I would definitely recommend it to someone who wants something emotional and well thought out that has a lot of substance to it.
Note: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!
Alessandro D’Avenia holds a PhD in Classical Literature, and teaches Ancient Greek, Latin and Literature at a high school in Milan. White as Silence, Red as Song was his first novel, published in Italy in 2010. It sold a million copies in Italy, has been translated into over twenty languages and was released as a film in 2012. Alessandro has since published four more books, the latest of which, Every Story is a Love Story, was published in October 2017.
Prize: 1 copy of WHITE AS SILENCE, RED AS SONG by Alessandro D’Avenia
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