I'm Not Scared

People who talk about books you can read in a single sitting either have a lot of free time or read very short books - or (most likely) both. However, I'm Not Scared came as close to that definition as anything's going to get in our house.

My husband bought the book on the basis that, if it was a huge hit in Italy and good enough to be translated, then it must be pretty good. But then he had to wait his turn while it passed between three of us all within the space of a week, which is testament not only to the fact that the book's quite short, but – far more importantly – that it's a gripping story beautifully told.

So gripping in fact that I won't tell you much about the plot except to say that it centres on Michele, a young Italian boy who makes a truly horrible discovery while out with his friends.

What follows undermines a lot of our assumptions about adult-child relationships – or perhaps just confirms the worst of them. It also tells us a lot about how children cope with the loss of innocence that comes with early exposure to the grown-up world. And one of the true wonders of the book is how author, Niccolo Amminiti, manages to evoke the conflicting emotions of childhood. He even manages to give an authentic voice to his childhood narrator – or so it seemed to me reading the English translation of the Italian original.

Settle down and put your phone on silent – this is a book that you really will want to read without interruption. And one that made me want to give my four-year-old daughter a very big hug even after she had got out of her bed for the 14th time that evening...

I'm Not Scared by Niccolò Ammaniti