April 2024
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Review: The Crossroads, Niccolo Ammaniti

Cristiano’s life with his father may not be the best, but he’s not prepared to  give it up.  At thirteen, he knows he’s leaving school to work with his father, and all that’s important is keeping his social worker happy so that he doesn’t get taken away.  Cristiano’s father, Rino, and his two friends Quattro Formaggi and Danilo Aprea are not as happy with their lives, especially when their manual labor jobs are given over to foreign workers.  So Danilo decides to launch the perfect crime, and on one stormy night, the men attempt to put the plan into action.  None of them foresee the consequences.

At first, I will admit that I wasn’t as drawn into this book as I was with I’m Not Scared. At one point Cristiano writes an essay about how Hitler was good and how foreigners are bad, and I wasn’t sure at all I was going to like this book.  That, however, soon ended, and about halfway through the crime was attempted, and then I couldn’t put this book down.  What happened after that was completely unpredictable and totally gripping, and I had to read on to see what happened.

Despite Cristiano’s and Rino’s attitudes, too, I could see the bitterness that drove them.  They’re not educated enough to understand why certain things are wrong, so even though I didn’t always like them or agree with them at all, at least I knew where they were coming from and how they came to have the wrong ideas.  I could blame the system, rather than the people, for their ignorant and terrifying attitudes.  And the father-son relationship was incredibly heartwarming and realistic.  They don’t always know what they’re doing or why they’re doing it, but they really love each other in the midst of all their hardships.

Really, this book is all about the failure of “the system”.  Hardworking respectable men are unable to work because foreigners will work for less, and of course the companies don’t care if they have to lay off the men they’ve employed for 20 years.  Mentally ill people get poor care and aren’t acknowledged at all, given no help despite the fact that they’ve become incapable of work.  The social worker in the book doesn’t even look at Cristiano’s bedroom, and when he does, he’s beyond caring.  I don’t think that he should have separated Cristiano from his father, although perhaps others would disagree, but the facade these two are capable of putting on for him, plus what he thinks makes a family, is almost laughable.

So, once again, Ammaniti has delivered a thriller that really causes his readers to think.  His writing is crude at times – he spares no details in certain matters – and often violent, but he’s talented nonetheless.  I do feel that I have to warn readers that a sexual crime is attempted in this book and it made me very uncomfortable, so it may do the same to you.  Regardless, though, The Crossroads is a great read, and I can definitely recommend it as an addictive, thrilling book that will keep you up all night just to finish it.

I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free from the publisher for review.


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