What Hell Is Not
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Take away love and you will have hell,’ you told me, Father Pino. ‘Give love and you will have what hell is not.’ Federico is a privileged teenager from Palermo. He is preparing to spend a summer learning English in Oxford when his teacher, Father Pino, asks him to help out at a youth centre in an area of Palermo dominated by mafia and misery. To his parents’ dismay, Federico decides to follow Father Pino into the darkness of Palermo’s alleyways. Far removed from his familiar surroundings, Federico begins to learn from the incredibly tough lives of the children who attend the youth centre, and also from Lucia, a beautiful girl full of courage and light. Then one day, Father Pino is murdered by the mafia, and the hope for Palermo and its beauty are entrusted to Federico’s young hands. Alessandro D’Avenia draws a powerful, unforgettable portrait of an extraordinary and contradictory city, of a society suffocated by silence yet capable of incomparable acts of courage.