Today I saw another blogger ask on social media if readers preferred seeing the book synopsis or the review first on blogs and every person who weighed in said the synopsis first, so I thought I’d change it up here so that I’m doing what the majority of readers are saying they want. Granted, it was only a handful but the vote was unanimous. If you’re of a differing opinion, let me know in the comments.
I know, off topic, so let me get right to what you came here for!
About the Book
Leo is an ordinary sixteen-year-old: he loves hanging out with his friends, playing soccer, and zipping around on his motorbike. The time he has to spend at school is a drag, and his teachers are “a protected species that you hope will become extinct,” so when a new history and philosophy teacher arrives, Leo greets him with his usual antipathy. But this young man turns out to be different. His eyes sparkle when he talks, and he encourages his students to live passionately, and follow their dreams.
Leo now feels like a lion, as his name suggests, but there is still one thing that terrifies him: the color white. White is absence; everything related to deprivation and loss in his life is white. Red, on the other hand, is the color of love, passion and blood; red is the color of Beatrice’s hair. Leo’s dream is a girl named Beatrice, the prettiest in school. Beatrice is irresistible – one look from her is enough to make Leo forget about everything else.
There is, however, a female presence much closer to Leo, which he finds harder to see because she’s right under his nose: the ever-dependable and serene Silvia. When he discovers that Beatrice has leukemia and that her disease is related to the white that scares him so much, Leo is forced to search within himself, to bleed and to be reborn. In the process, he comes to understand that dreams must never die, and he finds the strength to believe in something bigger than himself.
White as Milk, Red as Blood is not only a coming-of-age story and the narrative of a school year, but it is also a bold novel that, through Leo’s monologue – at times easy-going and full of verve, at times more intimate and anguished – depicts what happens when suffering and shock burst into the world of a teenager, and the world of adults is rendered speechless.
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In My Opinion…
I’ll be honest with you. At first, I wasn’t loving this book, wasn’t even liking it very much. Sixteen-year-old Leo seemed shallow and immature. His narrative stream-of-consciousness voice took some getting used to.
BUT…I am so glad I stuck with the story because Leo learns and grows—and in the process, grew on me.
For Leo, white is the scariest, worst color because it represents nothingness, absence, void. While red is life, passion, love. Red is a girl named Beatrice.
Over the course of a school year, Leo’s eyes are opened to holding dreams, injury, illness, friendship, love and so much more. With a substitute teacher who invests time in Leo and a best friend who you can’t help but feel for a little, Leo navigates some tough emotional circumstances. And through those, he discovers the vast array of colors in his life (not just the two he dwells on).
While I don’t feel the “Italian Fault in Our Stars” is an accurate description for this book, there is a lot in the second half of White as Silence, Red as a Song unpacked by Leo and friends. So don’t give up on the guy too soon.
Content warning: there are several mild curse words in this translation as well as a couple of overt references to teenagers sleeping together
I receive complimentary books from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including NetGalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.