Publication Date: February 4, 2014
Set in an Italian seaside village where every man’s life revolves around soccer, this compelling novel tells the story of a widowed butcher and his son whose losses are transformed into love.
The death of his twin brother and subsequent suicide of his mother leaves twenty-two-year-old Etto adrift in his small town on the Italian Riviera. A misanthrope and a cynic, Etto is faced with the seemingly impossible prospect of cobbling together the remaining pieces of his life, including his mostly nonexistent relationship with his father, the town butcher.
Things begin to change for Etto when Yuri Fil, a scandalized Ukrainian soccer star and his tough-love sister, Zhuki, arrive in town, and sweep him into their universe of soccer, celebrity, laughter, and fierce loyalty. Under their influence, Etto begins to reconstruct his relationship with his father and learns a few life lessons: that perhaps the game of soccer isn’t just a waste of time—and that San Benedetto, his father, love, and life itself might have more to offer him than he ever believed possible.
Loosely following the trajectory of Dante’s Divine Comedy, Etto finally learns to make peace with both the tragedy of his past and the direction of his future.
The Sun and Other Stars ended up surprising me, in a very good way.
I was worried I wouldn’t be able to fall into the rhythm of this book. Once I got used to the Italian slang and other vernacular quirks I sunk in and enjoyed myself thoroughly.
I was worried that the subject of soccer would be lost on me. That wasn’t the case at all. The game of soccer is a wonderful backdrop. It brings people together. It knits father to son. It inspires a town that is somewhat down on its luck. It even kindles romance.
The setting in this book made me long for warmth. It was the perfect book to read while stuck in the freezing polar vortex that is my home state right now. San Benedetto sounds like a dream of a place. I wanted to be there. I wanted to eat their food and play soccer on their fields and chat with the characters at the local tavern.
I was absolutely impressed with The Sun and Other Stars. Grab a copy and hang out on the Italian Riviera with me? If you’re anything like me, you won’t ever want to leave.