An August read

Still time to read a book or two in August: Two Clew recommendations for you and one for your YA (young adult):

My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante

My Brilliant Friend is the first of four Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante, an author by many considered to be the best contemporary Italian author, who has still managed to keep her true identity secret.

Follow the close and complex friendship of two young girls, Elena and Lila, in 1950’s Italy, more precisely the impoverished outskirts of Naples, where you learn to work hard from a young age and to be as street-smart as it gets – and where you have to fight to learn anything else, as in going on to middle- and high school. The story of how they fight as best they can, how they change as every young woman does, and of how they drift apart and get back together again is endearing and gripping, written in a way that puts you right there on the town square, in the middle of the emotions and the quarrels and the words flying around in the colourful local dialect.

You meet them again in The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay and finally The Story of The Lost Child (you will have to wait until September for the fourth and final book).

All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Two parallel stories – don’t you just love those – from World War II. A young boy living in an orphanage in Germany sees a way out as he is accepted to a school where he hopes he will become an engineer but is instead brutally trained to be a Wehrmacht soldier. Meanwhile a young blind girl has to flee Paris in a rush with her father to seek refuge in Brittany, carrying with them something very special. A compelling story of the courage of children, and a story making you somehow understand the indoctrination of very young German boys, elegantly and beautifully written.

Anthony Doerr is an American author and All The Light We Cannot See won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

Catherine, Called Birdy by Karen Cushman

This book came out about 20 years ago, but is still highly recommendable to new young readers! It is a historical fiction novel about Catherine, a young girl of 13 in 1290, who refuses to accept her father’s plans to marry her off. It is written in the modern “intimate diary” style adapted to the period and setting Catherine lives in. It’s a hilarious tale of Medieval everyday life, but especially of the many suitors Catherine tries to avoid to the point where she also refuses to go through with the marriage once her father finally was able to set one up. A young feminist in a time of few female rights. There are plans to turn Catherine, Called Birdy into a movie.


Clew, August 2015


  1. You’ve convinced me; I need to read Catherine, Called Birdy. I’ve seen it around a lot due to its age but never thought about picking it up!


  2. Great! Let us know what you think!


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