Albert Camus

Don't walk behind me; I may not lead. Don't walk in front of me; I may not follow. Just walk beside me and be my friend.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

an unlikely friendship - An Italian Adventure (Italian Saga #1) by Gaia B. Amman

13+ A humorous coming of age tale of friendship, sisterhood, and family drama set against the gorgeous backdrop of northern Italy.
Recommended for fans of Jandy Nelson, John Green, Neil Gaiman and Sherman Alexie


Published: November 1st, 2015

A humorous coming of age tale of friendship, sisterhood, and family drama set against the gorgeous backdrop of northern Italy.
Recommended for fans of Jandy Nelson, John Green, Neil Gaiman and Sherman Alexie

Italy, the late 80s. Leda is a bookish tomboy whose life is turned upside down by shady Nico, who just moved north from Sicily. Their unlikely friendship will evolve through a whirlwind of adventures leaving both kids transformed. Ultimately, Leda will discover that adults aren’t always right, marking the end of childhood and the beginning of everything else.

Recommended for ages 13 and above. Some swearwords, mostly in Italian.

The book is the first in a series following the same characters throughout their life.

Why can’t we talk about sex with our kids? 

This is a topic that very much fascinates me. I firmly believe that many of you, just like me, grew up in utter ignorance, or maybe even worse learning from the internet with the most disastrous, tragicomic results.

“Why couldn’t adults speak openly about sex, when it seemed to be all they worried about? I was drowning in my ignorance mixed with the fear of grownups, this sense of foreboding that something nasty and inevitable was going to happen, turning me into garbage. I felt as if everyone knew that I was about to make a huge mistake, yet nobody bothered to warn me.” --Leda Balni in “An Italian Adventure, it will all make less sense when you grow up”.

It seems to me that if we could just be honest and answer questions when kids pose them, typically much earlier than one would expect, a lot of issues would be avoided. I am not necessarily talking only about the act of love making, but also all of its emotional implications, so often overlooked in our internet-dominated culture. In my series “The Italian Saga” as Leda grows up she finds herself wondering if she’s ready to make love or not, but the only people she can talk to are teenagers as clueless as she is.

“Sex to me was mysterious and omnipresent, just like God. From the Benetton advertisement sporting a colorful collection of condoms to erotic Italian Comedies crowding TV, Italy simmered in sensuality. 

Yet, the general consensus was that God disapproved of sex and condoned it only after marriage, but talking, ogling and joking about it was somehow okay. What happened in secret, was only for God to judge and for me to wonder about. 

Several of my friends were no virgins, definitely including Nico. The biology and anatomy of the act had been unraveled for me in school with all the pain embarrassment could bring. The many books I surrounded myself with had answered any residual question but one: when was the right time? Was there a moment in your life when this cumbersome question mark turned into an exclamation?” From “Sex-O-S, Surviving the First Time in Italy” (released in the summer of 2016)

We are all bound to make some mistakes, but the more educated on a certain topic the better prepared we are to make sensible choices. Kids should know that it is perfectly normal to be obsessed with sex, to not care at all, or to be anywhere in between. We are all different. They should understand how emotions impact their own physical experience and that of their partner. 

Why don’t we talk more about true consent, birth control, gender identity and sexual preferences? Ignorance results in alienation, frustration, and often violence (suicides, haters, bullying, repression). If religion or culture dictates a certain behavior, leave it to each individual to choose to abide by those rules rather than act on instinct. This is a free country, and personal choices should be founded on facts and respect, not fear. If you disagree say so but check your facts first and respect other people’s opinions and beliefs. Understanding one’s own feelings makes it a lot easier to decide if acting on them or not.

So, heed my advice, if you want your kids to have a better chance at happiness, shed that sense of shame. It spreads from you to them like an infectious disease, leaving them vulnerable to ignorance, unwanted pregnancies, abusive relationships, bullying, and lots, lots of angst. Life is difficult enough as it is, even more so for a teenager, don’t you think?

“Why did it have to be such a shameful secret? Didn’t most people have sex, sooner or later? Wasn’t this the way we ensured the continuity of the species? Why was it such a big deal? Hadn’t I been potty-trained? Hadn’t I been taught to chew with my mouth closed, my elbows off the table, to say thank you and please? So what was the darn big deal about having sex? Wasn’t it integral to our life, just like eating and taking a dump?” Leda Balni in “Sex-O-S, Surviving the First Time in Italy” (released in the summer of 2016)

About the author:
Gaia B Amman was born and raised in Italy. She moved to the United States in her twenties to pursue her PhD in molecular biology. She’s currently a Professor of biology at D’Youville College in Buffalo, New York, where she was voted “the professor of the month” by her students. Her research and commentaries have been published in prestigious peer-reviewed international journals including Nature.

A bookworm from birth, she wrote throughout her childhood and won two short story competitions in Italy in her teens. Gaia is an avid traveler and many of her adventures are an inspiration for her fiction. Mostly she is passionate about people and the struggles they face to embrace life. Her highest hope is to reach and help as many as she can through her writing as well as her teaching. She authored the Italian Saga, an irreverent series of humorous and insightful young adult novels taking place against the gorgeous backdrop of Northern Italy. The books, light-hearted and funny at first sight, deal with issues like sexuality, divorce, friendship, abuse, first love and self discovery.

Among her favorite authors are J.K. Rowling, Jandy Nelson, Neil Gaiman, Chuck Palahniuk, Kurt Vonnegut, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Antoine de Saint Exupèry.

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fee roberts said...

I love these covers! The stories sound wonderful!

Reeah Ree said...

Thank you for the giveaway!

Arf2-D2 said...

The tag line - "It will all make (less) sense when you grow up" made me smile. So true!