I had a small but delightful book buying spree at the start of September. Among other titles, I got the new Elena Ferrante novel. I think I’ve mentioned her writing before. My fandom is well documented. This was no disappointment. She has a real gift in being able to transport the reader into her protagonist’s mind. There are many books documenting teenage angst and most of them are just like the real thing, very tiresome. There is an inevitable self obsession involved and usually when it appears in print, it’s just as irritating for the reader as it is for those on the receiving end of the real thing.
The Lying Life of Adults covers the formative years of Giovanna who lives with her academic parents in a smart area of Naples. She is an able student and a loving daughter. When she is twelve, she overhears a comment from her father that prompts her to seek out his estranged sister. What a fabulous creation she is. The next four years are a tumultuous switchback of feelings, events and experiences as she attempts to harness her growing sexuality amid conflicting messages from friends, boys, and adults. What is astonishing about this book, like her other books, is that you totally understand the decisions she makes and why. What would cause parents or friends to gasp in horror or even counsel some restraint, is easily accepted along with the consequences. She gets through her scary and troublesome adolescence and there is a great ending that was so redolent for me. The situation was totally different but the feeling was exactly the same.