Book Review Time: We Are Family

The world is a scary place. I guess it always has been. But humans are inventive. We know how to edit, revise, cover- up, and gloss-over. For the last few weeks, months even, the curtains have been ripped open, revealing truths that many weren’t prepared for. I pray for better days, more open-hearts, and a collective desire to understand and heal. I hope this review finds you all well, whether you’re state-side or aboard. 

Book review time…

I use reading as an escape. A way to immerse myself in someone else’s world. And I needed that escape, especially this week. So I’ve spent the past couple of days with another Europa Editions selection. We Are Family, by Fabio Bartolomei, is a fantastical tale that explores the strength of family, and the enduring power of hope. Almerico, or Al, is the youngest member of the Santamaria clan. But don’t let his youthfulness fool you. Al is a certified genius. His brilliance is a source of both pride and consternation for his family. For the reader, it’s often the source of great comical moments. Al is motivated to use his superior intellect and mental powers to save the world. How, exactly, will he accomplish this great feat? Well, to be honest, he hasn’t quite figured that part out yet. But he’s working on it. In the meantime, he has more pressing issues to resolve. Namely, finding a permanent home for him and his family.

The Santamarias are close-knit, to say the least. Al loves his father, Mario Elvis, and his mother, Agnese. And even though they butt heads at times, he absolutely adores his older sister, Vittoria. They’re financially strapped and find themselves moving from one cheap apartment to another. In spite of the instability, the Santamarias maintain an unwavering bond to each other, rooted in a place that transcends the physical. Al, however, still feels the need to go to great lengths in order to preserve that familial bond. This may seem like a lot for a child to take on. But Almerico is not your average child.  

I really enjoyed this book. It beautifully depicts the ebb and flow of life, and how we negotiate those fluctuations. We immerse ourselves in the joyful moments. We muscle our way through the turbulent times. But if we even attempt to assert some level of control over it all, fate steps in to show us that we’re not in charge. Luckily, with the support and love of family, we can learn to appreciate every moment of it. That is how we grow. Tomorrow isn’t guaranteed to any of us. So, it’s important to live by the tenets of Almerico Santamaria. One must love deeply, fiercely, loyally. And one must never forget, to set aside at least a little bit of time for fun.  

Peace be with you all. 


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