Mostly, however, these insertions are superfluous summaries of what Nonna is about to write or has already written—and done so quite well.  It’s highly annoying and interrupts the flow of the narrative.  This is particularly a problem when the co-authors choose to include one of their “recaps” immediately before Nonna tells the story, which robs the reader of all suspense.

Worse still, the recaps are written in very simple language that sounds as if the authors are speaking to very small children.  Nonna describes her father’s beating and the fatal wounds that the soldiers inflicted upon him, for example.  Immediately after she shares this, the co-authors tell us again, almost verbatim, what Nonna has just said.  After she shares about staying by his side and nursing him, showing us how dear he was to her, the co-authors choose to throw in an insertion that begins, “Nonna deeply loved her father.”  Several times, after Nonna describes an act of kindness, the co-authors say, “Nonna (doing this act) shows that she has a loving heart.”

It’s a bizarre literary device that simply does not work, and an egregious editorial decision.  At best, the explanations annoy the reader and take him out of the story, again and again.  At worst, they rob him of the joy of literary suspense.  Hopefully, a second edition will delete the overwhelming majority of these and include the few necessary ones as footnotes.

The book is still excellent (if  you ignore the commentary) and a very worthy read, for all ages.  It is, in fact, a true literary gem that is on a par with The Diary of Anne Frank.  As such, it should be required reading in schools throughout the country.


**This first review published on May 12, 1009.