Hide this

Results from Google Books

Click on a thumbnail to go to Google Books.

Acciaio by Silvia Avallone

Acciaio (2010)

by Silvia Avallone

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
211None54,992 (3.56)2



Sign up for LibraryThing to find out whether you'll like this book.

No current Talk conversations about this book.

» See also 2 mentions

Italian (7)  English (6)  Dutch (4)  Spanish (2)  French (1)  German (1)  Swedish (1)  All languages (22)
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Did you ever have an inseparable best friend as a teen, and an insuperable childhood quarrel that almost ruined everything? Or maybe it did and when you think of that friend now you just feel a bottomless sadness and hollowness where that love should be. I have to say, I really loved this book even with all of its darkness and hopelessness. It's the story of a friendship between two girls, Francesca and Anna, two inseparable pretty girls, and the year when everything changed. Everything and nothing. I thought this would be a light beach read but it goes to some dark places very quickly, and the whole story is really colored by tragedy, but it's still beautiful in its way. This is the Italy tourists never see, the Italy of public housing and factories and drugs and strip clubs, but the friendship between the girls is as universal as it is unforgettable.
http://www.bostonbibliophile.com/2013/08/review-swimming-to-elba-by-silvia.html ( )
  bostonbibliophile | Aug 7, 2013 |
Swimming to Elba by Silvia Avallone
ISBN: 9780670023585
Difficult to find translations for the Italian phrases but you can get the gist of what's being said. This takes place in an Italian city. The slums, housing projects and the beach the children swim in is full of sewer. All the people that live there work at the steel mills.
This is a difficult time in the girls lifes as they become teens and adults in the poverty of the Italian community.
Anna and Francesca live in Piombiono, Italy and heading into teenagers who are waiting to experience what life has to offer them.
They like to dance nude in front of the bathroom window where others can watch them. They allow the boys to kiss and feel them. They also like to touch one another and have secret places they go to.
Other boys in the area work at the mill, working with hot iron all day and all night. One day Anna goes with a boy after a roller skating party and lets him do what he wants. She's on birth control now. In the meantime Francesca has been beatten up by her father and her mother won't go to the police.
Anna's mother has filed papers for divorce but now she wants to stop as her husband has returned, paying off the sons car, a big ring and a kitten for the women, which is exactly what they want. His clothes are also very high class.
The girls and their brothers and friends grow from teens to adults over the years as they move through sex, drugs, abuse, death, lying, stealing, etc to get where they need to be.
I found this book hard to read because of the abuse with drugs and sex. ( )
  jbarr5 | Jul 25, 2013 |
This book explores the transition from adolescence to adulthood in a gritty and emotional way. This transition is never easy, but it's especially hard for Anna and Francesca. They live in a poverty stricken town next to a dying steel mill.

In Piombino, drug addiction is prevalent, abuse is frequent, and criminal activity is routine. I don't believe I've ever read about more despondent characters.

This novel nearly suffocated me with it's hopelessness. It made me uncomfortable as well. Reading about these young girls using their sexuality left me feeling squeamish.

And yet...

While Swimming to Elba is far from a cheerful story I found it powerful and important. Anna and Francesca are still on my mind. They won't soon be forgotten. ( )
  JenHartling | Mar 30, 2013 |
En välskriven fascinerande berättelse om några tonårsflickor uppväxt i ett fattigt Italien. Boken skildrar på ett väldigt bra och speciellt sätt tonåringars tankar och känslor. ( )
  Polhemsbibl | Sep 6, 2012 |
I picked up Swimming to Elba by Silvia Avallone (trans. by Antony Shuggar) because I read somewhere that everyone in Europe was raving about it and there were only 2 holds ahead of me at the library for it (and I am an incessant hoarder of library books, which I have mentioned elsewhere, so when I see a book that people are talking about with few if any holds on it, I must immediately have it). The book is centered around two Italian girls, one blond and the other brunette, both beautiful, the summer they turn 14. Their town, Poimbino, is dominated and in turn centered around a giant but dying steel plant. The novel takes place in early 2000-2001 (the Italians’ take on 9/11 is amusing), and though well before the economic crash of 2008 and later, Poimbino is clearly on the verge of its own economic crash. Glittering just a few miles off-shore is the rich, tourist island of Elba, always visible, but always just out of reach for the novel’s sometimes gritty, usually desperate, and frequently frustrated characters. In many ways this is a classic bildungsroman, but it’s also an indictment of socialism, capitalism, class, and gender stereotypes (however much it fails at the latter).

The two girls, Anna (brunette) and Francesca (blonde) are inseparable best friends. They live one floor up from each other in massive, concrete city-owned housing projects. Anna’s father is a wanna-be Godfather while Francesca’s is a great brute of a man who beats both Francesca and her mother. The novel opens with a scintillating description of the girls in their newly developed, scantily clad bodies frolicking on the beach and flirting with the older boys, all as seen through Francesca’s father’s binoculars and told through his POV. Creepy. While there are beautiful passages and cinematic scenes, that opening really sets the tone for the entire novel, but gets progressively worse and more and more depressing as the girls’ relationship crumbles and they each get caught up in the adult world of sex. Books like this are why I generally stay away from modern literary realism.

The jacket describes the book as a “lightening-rod for discussion” in Europe and a strong criticism of the Leftist, Socialist ideal of the happy proletariat in Italy. I can see that, and I get what Avallone is trying to do here, if what the jacket says is true, and I applaud her for doing so. That doesn’t make me like the book any more than I do. There are a few reasons for my general dislike. The first is technical: Avallone uses the third person omniscient POV, which allows her to jump into the head of whoever she wishes, which she does quite frequently. Therein lies the problem. While most writers that I’ve read who use this narrative technique do so with ease, Avallone’s continual head-hopping is confusing, especially when she does it in the middle of a paragraph using only gender pronouns, when the scene includes several members of that gender whose head she’s already been in and could be in again. I frequently wasn’t sure whose head I was in at a given moment, which continually forced me out of the narrative, instead of keeping me locked in an otherwise engrossingly real world.

The second issue I had with the novel was its treatment and view of women. That the opening description of the girls is given through the highly sexualized gaze of one of their fathers is creepy and gut-tumbling enough, but the book is drenched with more and more of it. All of the men in the book are possessive, nearly misogynistic assholes who see women (or rather 13 and 14 year old girls) as nothing more than a good or bad fuck at best, and inhuman house slaves at worst. The women frequently seem to see themselves in these terms as well, and the young ones do what they can as soon as they get tits to look like a good fuck so they can get married to one of the charming assholes from the steel plant and become a house slave later on.

There is so little hope in this book, and what bright spot there is is imperiled half-way through. I don’t doubt that this may be what life in a small costal city dominated by a dying industry in Italy looks like; her depiction of life there was so thorough it began to bleed into my own view of Seattle and for that I hate the book a little bit. But in the same way I get what it’s like to look at something shining and shimmering that is close enough to touch but is always just out of reach. I think anyone who reads this book would (unless they were reading it on the white beach of Elba), and for that level of realism, that level of detail that can suck you right in and make you part of that world, I give the book and its author my respect. Final verdict: read at your own risk. ( )
1 vote VeronicaH. | Aug 9, 2012 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
no reviews | add a review
You must log in to edit Common Knowledge data.
For more help see the Common Knowledge help page.
Series (with order)
Canonical title
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Original title
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Alternative titles
Original publication date
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Important places
Important events
Related movies
Awards and honors
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
De beste dingen schitteren van angst - Don DeLillo, Weegschaal
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Voor Eleonora, Erica en Alba mijn beste vriendinnen en voor al diegenen die staal maken
First words
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
In de onscherpe cirkels van de lenzen bewoog het figuurtje maar nauwelijks, zonder hoofd.
Last words
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Disambiguation notice
Publisher's editors
Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to the English one.
Publisher series

References to this work on external resources.

Wikipedia in English


Book description
Haiku summary

No descriptions found.

In the barracks of Stalingrad street, Piombino, a town in Tuscany, being 14 years is difficult. The two friends, Anna and Francesca are trying to survive physically and psychologically.

» see all 2 descriptions

Quick Links

Swap Ebooks Audio
12 wanted6 pay1 pay

Popular covers


Average: (3.56)
2 5
2.5 3
3 19
3.5 10
4 19
4.5 1
5 9

Is this you?

Become a LibraryThing Author.


Help/FAQs | About | Privacy/Terms | Blog | Contact | LibraryThing.com | APIs | WikiThing | Common Knowledge | Legacy Libraries | Early Reviewers | 89,505,211 books! | Top bar: Always visible