Bianca come il latte, rossa come il sangue (White as Milk, Red as Blood)

Bianca come il latte, rossa come il sangue (White as Milk, Red as Blood) Alessandro D'Avenia
Pub date 31st January 2010
Original publisher Mondadori (Italy)
Publisher (US) HarperCollins (WEL)
International publishers Botimet Dudaj (Albania), Bertrand (Brazil), Thinkingdom Media (China), Nakladatelstvi Jota (Czech Republic), Algoritam (Croatia), Jean-Claude Lattes (France), Random House (Germany), Patakis (Greece), Bhuana Limu Populer (Indonesia), Modan (Israel), De Bezige Bij (The Netherlands), Znak (Poland), Lua de Papel (Portugal), Penguin Random House (Spain), Contempo (Sweden)

Leo is an ordinary sixteen-year-old: He loves hanging out with his friends, playing soccer, and zipping around on his motorbike. The time he has to spend at school is a drag, and his teachers are “a protected species that you hope will become extinct,” so when a new history and philosophy teacher arrives, Leo greets him with his usual antipathy. But this young man turns out to be different. His eyes sparkle when he talks, and he encourages his students to live passionately, to follow their dreams.

Leo now feels like a lion, as his name suggests, but there is still one thing that terrifies him: the color White. White is absence; everything related to deprivation and loss in his life is white. Red, on the other hand, is the color of love, passion and blood; red is the color of Beatrice’s hair. Leo’s dream is a girl named Beatrice, the prettiest in school. Beatrice is irresistible – one look from her is enough to make Leo forget about everything else.

There is however a female presence much closer to Leo, which he finds harder to see because she’s right under his nose: the ever-dependable and serene Silvia. When we discover that Beatrice has leukemia and that her disease is related to the White that scares him so much, Leo is forced to search within himself, to bleed and to be reborn. In the process, he comes to understand that dreams must never die, and he finds the strength to believe in something bigger than himself.

Bianca come il latte, rossa come il sangue is not only a coming-of-age story and the narrative of a school year, but it is also a bold novel that, through Leo’s monologue – at times easy-going and full of verve, at times more intimate and anguished –  depicts what happens when suffering and shock burst into the world of a teenager, and the world of adults is rendered speechless.


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