Lorenzo Cuni is a fourteen-year-old loner.
His wealthy parents think he is away on a school skiing trip, but in fact he has stowed away in a forgotten cellar. He plans to live in perfect isolation, for a week, keeping the adult world at bay.
Then a visit from his estranged half-sister, Olivia, changes everything…
This was one that called out to me every time I popped into my local Waterstones, I loved the cover and the slim volume just felt ‘right’ when you picked it up. I like to read the odd translated works and the plot of this one sounded like something I’d enjoy. And I’d heard good things about Niccolò Ammaniti’s writing before.
The book opens with an older Lorenzo, waiting in a café to go see his estranged half-sister, once we’ve been introduced, we skip back ten years to a time when Lorenzo, was fourteen-years-old, a bit of a loner, lacking social skills.
When some kids at school are planning a skiing trip, for a group of their friends, Lorenzo longs to be invited to go along, but he’s pretty much invisible at school, and the invite never comes. (Nor does he out himself forward to go along.)
Rather than explain to his mother, he lets her think that is where he is going, and makes plans instead to camp-out in the cellar to the large house they live in.
His peaceful existence is shattered, when his estranged half-sister (who he barely knows) turns up. Will she let others know about his secret or has she got secrets of her own?
During the short amount of time they spend together, a bond of sorts forms between the two of them, and long-buried family secrets come to light. The Lorenzo that leaves the cellar will be a different one that enters it.
When we return to the 24 year old Lorenzo in the café, Niccolò Ammaniti gives us a gut-punch of a finish.
Buy: Me and You by Niccolò Ammaniti