Friday, January 23, 2015

Franca’s Story tells tragic saga of Italian suffering during World War II

What would it feel like to have your country join in a war on the side of one of the most evil dictators in modern history, and then have his fanatic soldiers occupy your country, killing and starving your family, friends and fellow citizens? This is a question answered by author Diane Kinman in Franca’s Story, a true account of teenager Franca Mercati, who lived in Italy during the years of World War II. The conflict shatters Franca’s childhood and devastates her family, but she finds the strength to overcome obstacles with courage and ingenuity.

Franca and her family flee their home in Florence to escape Allied bombs and settle in their beach home at Viareggio. One brother is soon killed, and a second is missing in action. She watches in horror as her school friends die in a bombing at the Pisa train station and narrowly escapes from a visit to her sister in Buggiano with a deserting Nazi doctor. Shortly after this, she and her family narrowly escape death when their home is destroyed in a bombing raid. Franca and her friend must scavenge for food to feed their families and many other people, since the occupying German army has less interest in the business of two small girls than they would with older members of the families.

The story is narrated in a matter-of-fact voice—without anger or bitterness—but with ample descriptions to bring the characters and drama to life. It is particular poignant to Italian-Americans, like me, who had relatives in the same region forced to live through this frightening and brutal time. I highly recommend it to anyone who want to understand Italian history and events of the last century which shaped today’s Italian people.

Other blogs about Italy during World War II:
Mario Seghieri, World War 2, Montecarlo and the Gothic Line
Surviving Facism and the war, Gig di Meo thrives on geniality, good fortune

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