Beneath a Scarlet Sky: A Novel
by Mark Sullivan
Lately, I've been getting away from my obsession with sci-fi/fantasy and trying to branch out into more non-fiction type stories. This one is a harrowing real-life story of a kid in Italy during World War II. The author opens up the preface with a quick explanation of the story: this is a true story based on a decade of research, with a little dramatization to fill in the blanks and make it entertaining. While it is dramatized, it's absolutely a true story told from the perspective of one Pino Lella, hero of WWII.
The story starts off with Pino growing up in Milan, Italy in 1943. He's sixteen, seventeen years old. He runs into a beautiful woman named Anna on the street, and instantly smitten, asks her out on a date. She says yes and agrees to meet him at the movies. That night, Pino sneaks out to the movie theater... and Anna doesn't show up. Halfway through the movie, air raid sirens go off, and Pino escapes the movie theater as bombs rain down on them. WWII has begun in Italy.
The story continues, following Pino up into the mountains, where he escorts Jews across the snowy Alps to freedom in Switzerland, and back to Milan, where he gets deeply involved in the resistance... and the Nazis.
The writing style isn't that sophisticated, and I think it would be a good book for high school students and up. I certainly enjoyed it, and even teared up toward the end.
It turns out that Pino Lella is an unsung hero of World War II. His story has been corroborated but until Sullivan put this out there, it had never been written down or shared with the world.
I really enjoyed this book, and I think anyone who appreciates history or wants to read more about a young man's struggles through World War II would love it.