“she took the facts and in a natural way charged them with tension; she intensified reality as she reduced it to words, she injected it with energy.” (130).
Book one of the Neopolitan Novels
Lenu describes her relationship with her best friend, the enigmatic Lila. It is 1950s Naples, Lenu and Lila live in an impoverished neighborhood. There is violence, anger, frustration, and the confusing beauty of a long lasting but competitive friendship. While the girls stay in touch, their lives diverge dramatically.
This novel is a perfect Bildungsroman. Lenu describes the good times and the extraordinary moments along with the ugly and boring monotony of growing up in a small neighborhood.
The competition between the girls makes Lenu a better student. She is driven by her friendship to not just best her friend but also to be a good friend when Lila helps her study. Lenu gets to continue with school while Lila has to go to work. There are moments where they seem to stray apart but are then pulled back together time and time again.