|This is the Dutch cover|
Manuela Paris comes back from Afghanistan where she was wounded when her unit was hit by a bomb. She cannot walk without crotches, she has screws and metal plates throughout her body and suffers from severe PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder)
She does not want to be home, she is scared to death she won’t recover and won’t be able to get back into the army. And the army is her life, her everything. Manuela joined up when the Italian army had been opened for women just a few years before. The road had not been easy, but for Manuela the words sacrifice, honour, courage and loyalty are not just words, they mean something and she feels them deep in her soul. She joined the Alpini’s, the most honourable soldiers in the Italian army who always did the most difficult jobs. She cannot and will not consider the possibility that this life may be over for her.
The situation at home is not easy, with a mother who never wanted her to choose this career and a sister who has a child and goes from relationship to relationship. Her only anchor is the man she sees everyday smoking on the balcony of the otherwhise empty hotel on the other side of the road. He is the only guest and Manuela seeks his company.
At first he keeps her at a distance, but in the end they grow into some sort of relationship, two people waiting in an uncertain situation. Because Mattia is also in Limbo, he lives in the hotel but cannot say why, or what his background or even his real name is.
Only when the future for Manuela becomes clear, she finds out what Mattia’s Limbo was.
Melania Mazzucco wrote A perfect day and Vita (here) before, two beautiful novels.Limbo is a book of almost fivehundred pages, but as far as I am concerned, not one of these pages is unnecessary. When Manuela remembers Afghanistan, you are also there and you feel the heath, the boredom and the fear. Melania Mazzucco did her research and this shows. These parts are fascinating and still very readable (I am always afraid of too many technical details, but that was not the case here).
Heartbreaking and beautiful is described how Manuela clings to her hope of a new career in the army and a relationship with Mattia.
Manuela is a strong woman, but due to the fact she is sincere in her beliefs and holds on to her principles she is also sympathetic and likeable (although perhaps a bit naief). Mattia is a little less likable, but he has his own tragic.
Limbo is a beautiful novel about dealing with loss, that also gives a very good description of the situation in Afghanistan and the western soldiers who are there on a mission. I loved it.
Original Italian title: LimboPublished in 2012
English translation will be available on November 4th, 2014