The First True Lie, by Marina Mander

I requested this as an ARC because the premise intrigued me: adolescent Luca, already half an orphan raised by his mother, wakes up one morning to find his mother has died, presumably from an overdose of sleeping pills, and decides to keep it a secret because he is terrified of being sent to an orphanage. The book is Italian originally, but still very powerful in translation. Luca likes swearing and fantasizing; he's in love with his classmate Antonella and loved his life with his mother, even as he hated being branded an orphan. It's not, as one might imagine, an easy book to get though, despite being quite short. As his mother's body begins to stink, Luca falls deeper into himself in an effort to keep up outward appearances. Mander makes a good approximation, I think, of a young boy's brain, and I could easily slip inside Luca's shoes. That said, I'd be careful who I recommended this to, as the novel is every bit as painful as the subject matter promises.


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