Nine-year-old Michele Amitrano and his friends have little to do one very hot summer besides explore the Italian countryside around them. When the leader of their little gang, Skull, forces Michele to go off on his own in an abandoned house after a forfeit, he makes a discovery that is destined to change his perception of his friends, family, and life itself.
The outside of this book promised that it would be scary, but it wasn’t at all in the way that I’d expected, and to be honest I vastly preferred what I got to what I expected. Rather than a scary book in superficial ways, this is a book about human nature, about a boy discovering what adults can do to other little boys just like him. Michele’s loss of his childhood innocence is totally heartbreaking, but riveting. I can understand why this book kept others up all night to find out what happens next. I myself read it in just one day. It’s a very absorbing read.
This is also a beautifully written book. I don’t know whether to give credit to the author or the translator, but I could feel the heat of that Italian summer, see the wheat fields and the abandoned farmhouse, just as I could see inside Michele’s realistically wrought child mind. Michele is almost unbelievably genuine, which of course only adds to the emotional impact of the book, especially the ending. He watches as the people he trusted turn out to be fallible, which everyone realizes eventually, but hardly in this way. And of course it isn’t only the adults he’s already wary of, but those he loves and trusts.
From the adults’ perspective, I think the novel shows the desperation people have to make their lives better. Apparently crimes of this type (I’m being vague, but I think it’s worth not knowing) are still commonplace, and that only makes it all sadder. They want to move to northern Italy, which is richer, but it seems they’ll do almost anything to achieve it. I was left wondering if it was worth the sacrifice, and perhaps glad that at least one of the adults may have finally realized the amount of harm he was doing.
I would definitely recommend I’m Not Scared to anyone with an interest in thoughtful thrillers. It’s a gripping read with strong emotional impact that will leave you considering what happened for days afterwards. I’m looking forward to my next book by Ammaniti.
I am an Amazon Associate. This book was sent to me for free by the publisher for review.