Journey to the Volcano
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A review of this length cannot hope to do justice to this excellent book. George has an English father and Italian mother. She leaves them, returning only to 'kidnap' George and take him to her Sicilian family. He must know Grandma Violetta before she dies. George loves his Italian relatives but he loves his dad as well. Etna erupts killing Nonna Violetta but bringing dad, hotfoot, from London to the funeral and a family reunion. This sketch cannot convey the richness of the book: the Italian family is lightly balanced in England by George's idiosyncratic Grandad --- the contrast between Italian and English treatment of aged persons is pointed. George leads an ordinary English life with delightfully drawn school mates; George's dad is counselled at home by family friend Serafima who explains the importance of ageing relatives to Sicilians. The contrast is shocking but no explicit moral is presented. All in all a dense and satisfying read. Highly recommended for late junior, early teenagers.