cover image Heaven and Earth

Heaven and Earth

Paolo Giordano, trans. from the Italian by Anne Milano Appel. Viking/Dorman, $28 (410p) ISBN 978-1-98-487731-4

Giordano’s extraordinary novel of fateful friendships and obsessive love (after The Solitude of Prime Numbers) revolves around an Italian woman’s memories of her summers in Puglia in the late 1990s. Teresa Gasparro is 14 and on one of her annual summer visits from Turin to her grandmother’s house in the small village of Speziale when she gets her first glimpse of the three boys who will change her life. Brothers Bern and Tommaso Coriano, and cousin Nicola Belpanno, live next door in a farmhouse and sneak in at night to swim naked in the villa’s pool. As Teresa gets to know the boys, she is invited to the farmhouse, which turns out to be home to a Christian sect that believes in reincarnation of all living things. Teresa is drawn instantly to Bern and constantly thinks about him and his world while back at school throughout the years, and during the summer she turns 17, they consummate their relationship. Before she leaves, she asks Bern to kiss her in front of the other boys, and the awkwardness reveals intense jealousy. Giordano then shifts to 2012, when Teresa reconnects with Tomasso, reflects on the disappearance of the other two from their lives, and learns the dark details of the boys’ past. Lush regional details, indelible characters, and a riveting story line make this an overwhelmingly emotional read. Giordano’s captivating tale is a magnificent testament to the lingering impact of a charged romance. Agent: Andrew Wylie, the Wylie Agency. (July)