Solo Un Ragazzo (Just a Boy)

Solo Un Ragazzo (Just a Boy) Elena Varvello
Pub date 1st September 2020
Original publisher Einaudi (Italy)
International publishers Editions Le Masque/JC Lattes (France), Two Roads/John Murray (UK – World English)




The premise is mysterious and intriguing: the empty space left by a son who never found his place in the world. Elena Varvello is a master at delving into the dark, dense forest of adolescence and the stark, precipitous terrain of parental guilt.

‘He had seen the sky. He’d been able to see well, right until the end. He had seen everything.’

He, the boy, is almost eighteen and has a loving family. He’s polite and well-educated, sometimes silent but always smiling. Inside him, there’s a black hole, though no one knows it. So, when in the town of Cave, word spreads that he has broken into and stolen from a local house, his parents and sisters can’t believe it. Moreover, no one knows about the cabin he has built in the woods – a reflection of his solitude. No one knows about his lies, nor his anger or his ‘bad’ dreams. Or how alienated he feels. Until the night when the unthinkable happens: an attack made in plain sight on a neighbouring couple and their daughter, who are held hostage in one room for hours and threatened. Against a backdrop of local gossip, judging and condemning, unfolds the drama of a mysterious boy, who is loved and yet unknown, and of his family, who must learn the meaning of forgiveness and compassion. With her piercing gaze, able to cast light on the shadowy side of the human spirit, Elena Varvello tells of the pain of those departed and the difficult but not impossible recovery of those who are left behind.


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