The main problem is the narrator and main character, Giovanna. While early in the book, Giovanna tries to convince the reader that she is brave and courageous because of that one time she carried a hawk, at no point do her actions in 1943-45 ever make her seem any of those things. Instead she comes off as spoiled, self-centered, stupid, unrealistic, dumb and flighty. Now some of those things could be okay in a main character, especially since Wurtele uses Giovanna as a character that had no idea of what was truly going on with the Germans, and discovers more about the dark side of the Fascist regimes as the novel progreses. So even though she was annoyingly naive, that could have been okay because the novel shows her growing up. The same could be said about spoiled – it would be okay for her to be spoiled and slightly self-centered if the novel truly charted her becoming aware of the world around her and growing up from there. I believe it attempts to do that, but not very convincingly since all of Giovanna’s “war work” seems over exaggerated by her, hence making her sound whiny and spoiled even when she’s “helping” everyone. The biggest problem is that this girl is dumb. Full review.
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