Book Review: Never the Wind by Francesco Dimitri

I received an Uncorrected Bound Proof of this book. All opinions are my own. Pubdate was June 7, 2022.

Luca Saracino is thirteen years old and eight months ago became completely blind. After the death of his beloved grandfather, his parents decide to move the whole family into his grandfather’s home in the southern Italian countryside. With neither experience nor funds, they plan to extensively reno the home and turn it into a hotel. While Luca’s older brother drops out of university and his parents are focused on their new dreams, Luca is learning to navigate an entire new world. He makes an unexpected friend in Ada and her family. They’ve lived next door for generations but their families have not gotten along. Luca doesn’t know why his grandfather hated Ada’s father but he feels loved and supported by Ada and her parents for the first time in a long time.

Yet something seems to be stalking Luca in the fields near his house. Without his sight he feels vulnerable and uncertain of his surroundings but he becomes more and more sure that a greater force is moving around him. “Praise God, never the wind,” his grandfather used to tell him but what or who is this Wanderer that Luca senses in the countryside?

Never the Wind almost feels like a young adult novel, with its youthful protagonists and unsettling, maybe magical background but it also works well for adult readers. The big is firmly set in the real world but with strange things happening around Luca. Dimitri does an excellent job of leaving the reader unsure of what is real and what isn’t. Luca’s blindness lends itself to this lack of surety; he is our narrator and he himself is unsure of what is happening right in front of him as he learns to navigate his new lack of sight and trust his other senses. With Luca as narrator, we also get beautiful descriptions of the smells and feels and sounds around him. The southern Italian countryside really comes to life on the page in a beautiful but unsettling way.

7 thoughts on “Book Review: Never the Wind by Francesco Dimitri”

    1. When I visited Italy, it did seem pretty perfect! I saw some run down parts, like on the outskirts of cities, but it really is idyllic.

  1. Very interesting. I recall I liked Dimitri’s novel The Book of Hidden Things, praising the atmosphere but was very uncomfortable about its portrayal of women (and even had a bit of a squabble with the author himself on goodreads! 🙂 – that was some time ago now). Never the Wind appeals to me just on the basis that it has a blind narrator. Incidentally, this month I read a gorgeous children’s book Six Dots: A Story of Young Louis Braille, a biography of a child who invented the alphabet for the blind.

    1. This was my first book by this author but I would read him again. I thought he did a good job of writing from a blind character’s perspective and leaning into senses other than sight.

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