Favaro offers an evocative view of the idiosyncratic personalities of Treviso’s elderly, inviting readers into a world oriented around adherence to Catholic ritual and portents. One wrenching passage concerns a man with a half-paralyzed mouth attempting to chew a Communion cracker “with the same determination that a thirsty and lost man in the desert would have clung to a mere drop of dew.” Kevin himself is a relatable main character—he is affectionate toward his patients, inserting a catheter “with the utmost gentleness” lest he cause pain. At the same time Favaro gives him persuasive moments of anger and exasperation at their stubbornness. Favaro characterizes Kevin’s work with vivid colour, such as his in-home care of a couple dealing with alcoholism and cancer as well as the several traumatic deaths he witnesses.
Poetic phrases—“Sergio saw God everywhere, even in a simple sunbeam which entered the room, filtered by the curtain”—give the characters life and set the stage for Kevin’s own awakenings (“Remember that love always reaches its goal, there isn’t a single living being which doesn’t feel love”). Some translation issues, awkward editing and odd expository passages diminish the narrative’s power and clarity. But readers who stick with it will discover stories brimming with life, moments of humour, and deep insight into basic human goodness.
Takeaway: These introspective stories about an Italian nurse demonstrate the power of caring for others.
Great for fans of: Suleika Jaouad’s Between Two Kingdoms, Carolyn Jourdan’s Heart in the Right Place.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: B