Wowie, I have been horrible at keeping up on blog posts… I don’t know if anyone even likes reading these book reviews I’ve been doing lately – so if nobody’s interested let me know!!!!
Anyway, I’m just gonna jump right into this review! Here we gooooo!
Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours.
Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.
In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.
Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.
So I’ll start off by saying that this book was AMAZING! The story takes off in Milan, Italy where Pino Lella lives during World War 2. At first, there are nightly bombings taking place, which leads to Pino and his closest friends and family taking a train out to a field to sleep at night in order to stay safe; this is where a major theme in the book con smania, with passion, is first brought up. Pino’s father quickly realizes that this won’t be enough to keep his family safe and sends Pino and his younger brother Mimo off to a boarding school in the Swiss Alps called Casa Alpina. At first, he doesn’t understand why Father Re is having him train so hard, but soon learns that he will be a guide to take Jews seeking freedom to the neutral land of Switzerland. I love how excited he is to find this out; he truly is a good person for being so open to risking his life in order to help others save their own. One of my favorite groups he brings to Switzerland includes a pregnant woman; Pino is already a very sweet boy, but the moment he learns she is pregnant, he instantly changes gears and does everything he can to make things easier for this woman. Getting to know Pino through this part of his story makes watching what he goes through in the next parts sad to watch.
Next, Pino becomes a driver to the Nazi General Leyers; he becomes a secret spy and reports back to the allies every horrible thing he sees and hears. While all of this is going on, he re-meets Anna – the love of his life!
One thing I really enjoy about this story, is that if there’s a slow part, or a time that nothing is really much different than what has been going on, the author uses a few short sentences to explain so, and moves onto the more “exciting” (for lack of better terms) material. A huge theme in this story is con smania, with passion. Pino does everything with so much passion – from guiding people through the treacherous Alps in the dead of winter, to risking his life reporting everything he sees and hears back to the allies.
Beneath a Scarlet Sky is so beautifully written, and I love, love, love that you really get to know each character. The pace of the book is perfect, and the way everything is revealed is done so well. I’ve read quite a few WW2 fictions in the past, and I think this may be my favorite. It opened my eyes even more to the crazy amount of problems this war caused for so many. This may be stupid of me, but I honestly had never even thought of Italy being so heavily impacted by the war, and this was a huge eye opener.
“But we can’t stop loving our fellow man, Pino, because we’re frightened. If we lose love, all is lost.”
“Sometimes happiness comes to us. But usually you have to seek it out.”
“They kill people, and I’m a people.”
“He couldn’t stay around the dead or listen to the echoing pain of the living a moment longer.”
Anyway, I’ll stop gabbing and I’ll wrap this up:
Overall, this book was AMAZING. Very well written, great storyline, likable (and dislikable) characters, and, in my opinion, kind of life changing. I give this a rating of 5 stars, and I HIGHLY recommend reading this book!
Thanks for reading!!