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What Makes a Child Lucky: A Novel

by Gioia Timpanelli

A luminous story of danger and survival . In a timeless moment in rural Sicily, a boy experiences the brutal killing of his best friend and is kidnapped by the murderers. No child should have to know evil so intimately, and yet once he does, what will save him?

His salvation lies in the cycles of the seasons, the sturdy earth and its gifts of lentils and wild asparagus in a time of starvation, the animal sense that enables one to anticipate the whims and impulses of others, and, most important, familiarity with the Ancient Grandmother, who knows the entire play of good and evil. If he can trust her—the gang’s cook, a fierce woman of great practical wisdom and humanity—he will escape the grip of perpetual violence. Or so we learn from the beguiling old couple who narrate this story.

Uniting the most ancient forms of storytelling with a modern sensibility, Gioia Timpanelli’s work is a national treasure—a joy to read, clear and resonant and satisfying.