Can You Hear Me? By Elena Varvello
I thought Can You Hear Me was going to pan out completey differently to how the blurb describes the novel.
The blurb focuses on the kidnap of a young girl and the disappearance of a boy. However the book is about the effects of these events on Elia and his father’s involvement in them.
Ettore is a complex man who loses his job and his mental health takes a downward spiral because of this. He disappears for days and when he does come home is aloof and does not speak to his wife or Elia.
This has a huge effect on the family, not least Elia, especially at a sensitive time during his teenage years. His mother is in complete denial about his father’s actions.
So Elia turns to his friend Stefanio’s mother, Anna, for comfort. The two have an enomorous amount of sexual tension but both know entering into an sort of encounter will cause damage to many people.
In between Elia’ s thoughts is the actual event of the kidnap. Although the girl is unharmed, it is at times really harrowing and is a difficult read.
When Ettore is taken in for questioning over the kidnap of the girl, the family’s world comes crashing down Elia’s mother stands by her husband and Elia turns to Anna and does sleep with her.
Elia’s whole teenage years are ruined by his father’s actions and his mother’s reactions to this. His father then dies in prison of a heart attack a few years later.
I think the book is a great exploration into the indirect effects of a parent’s actions which isn’t always explored in novels as the focus tends to be on either the victim or tormentor. Although the novel wasn’t what I thought and at times was difficult to follow with all the changes in time, it was still a thrilling read.