“The First True Lie” by Marina Mander (translated from Italian by Stephen Twilley)
I stumbled upon a new, small novel by an Italian author entitled “The First True Lie” about a young boy being raised by a single mother in a city in Italy. His first lie comes when he realizes one morning that his mother has suddenly died in her sleep, and he has to carry on by going to school & pretending nothing has changed in his life.
His father has already “disappeared into the void”, abandoned him and his mother. They live on the 8th floor of an apt. building with their cat Blue. So basically this story chronicles the weeks after his mother dies, as Luca struggles to emotionally deal with her death. He says in the beginning that he is already a half orphan and is very afraid of being put into an orphanage — should he reveal his depressed mother’s untimely demise, maybe from an overdose of prescription drugs for her various ailments. He muses that “Orphan in my case is like a coat with only one sleeve” (page 13).
On page 93 he wisely says of his mother ” I understand if she was sick of living.” He had watched her date many men, any of whom could have been a “new trial dad”. But it had always been “One dad down, next one up.” (page 15).
Although the story is a bit morbid, about him living in the same apt. with a rotting corpse, it is a story of strength and resiliency from this lonely young boy’s perspective , to face his grief, loss, anger, fears, and eventual resolution. He states on page 54 “I only want to go back to the way it was”, which is a common statement of many of us, yearning for the past before something bad happened. But we all have to grow up & face the future.
Reading this book makes you ponder the reality of human mortality, and death of a parent from the child’s view. And it is a haunting coming of age story of a brave young boy. Luca obviously has to tell a lie for his own perceived survival, to avoid the orphanage.
The book is available on www.Amazon.com, published by Hogarth, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Randon House Inc.