Book Title:
White as Silence, Red as Song
Book Author:
Alessandro D'Avenia
Page Count:
Publishing Date:
September 4th, 2018
Thomas Nelson
Date Read:
August 20th, 2018
I received a copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review - Thank you!


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.

My Review

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.

3.5 stars
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3 Responses to White as Silence, Red as Song by Alessandro D’Avenia

  1. Pingback: Alessandro D'Avenia, author of WHITE AS SILENCE, RED AS SONG, on tour September 2018 | TLC Book Tours

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