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The Magic Mountain
Thomas Mann, John E. Woods
The Hooligan's Return: A Memoir
Norman Manea, Angela Jianu
As God Commands - Niccolo Ammaniti This was quite a powerful story, like a tornado sweeping off the outside world and leaving nothing but me and this book. At first, the violence made it a little hard to read (I was not sure if I would finish it), but eventually I was so immersed in the story that I came back to reality just to pray that the ending won't be a bad one. And it wasn't.

From the opening chapter, I knew this book will be different from the ones I've read so far. It is a harsh real-life story of people living at the edge of society, people who struggle for a job and a better life - not always through honest means. Although they are not entirely faithful, they turn to God in the key moments of their existence, either to pray or to ask for an answer.

Come Dio comanda is the story of a 13-year old boy, Cristiano Zena, who lives with his father, Rino, an unemployed drunkard and Nazi sympathizer who has violent episodes, but who loves his son more than his life. Rino's two friends, a mentally handicapped guy and another drunkard whose wife has left him, are the only thing close to a family for Cristiano. Despite the rough world in which he lives, Cristiano is not a tough boy. He has problems adapting, he doesn't have other friends apart from his father's, and he is shy with girls.

Everything will change beginning one stormy night, when the three grownups decide to steal money from an ATM. The original plan will never take place, as each of them takes a different path that night, that will change their lives forever. Cristiano is swept into the unfolding events, an experience that will affect and transform him deeply.

The novel is cinematic, the characters are skilfully built, I was right there amidst the story. No wonder it was made into a film - it has the perfect plot for an European movie. What an incredible book! I'm still under its influence.