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Summary and book reviews of I'm Not Scared by Niccolò Ammaniti

I'm Not Scared

by Niccolò Ammaniti

I'm Not Scared
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  • First Published:
    Feb 2003, 200 pages
    Paperback:
    Feb 2004, 208 pages

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About this Book

Book Summary

In this immensely powerful, lyrical and skillfully narrated novel, set in southern Italy, nine year-old Michele discovers a secret so momentous, so terrible, that he daren’t tell anyone about it. Read an exclusive excerpt at BookBrowse today.

The hottest summer of the twentieth century. A tiny community of five houses in the middle of wheat fields. While the adults shelter indoors, six children venture out on their bikes across the scorched, deserted countryside.

In the midst of that sea of golden wheat, nine year-old Michele Amitrano discovers a secret so momentous, so terrible, that he daren’t tell anyone about it. To come to terms with it he will have to draw strength from his own imagination and sense of humanity. The reader witnesses a dual story: the one that is seen through Michele's eyes, and the tragedy involving the adults of this isolated hamlet. The result is an immensely powerful, lyrical and skillfully narrated novel, its atmosphere reminiscent of Tom Sawyer, Stephen King's Stand By Me and Italo Calvino's Italian Fairy Tales.

This is Ammaniti's third book, but his first to be published in the USA.

That much he knew. He had fallen into darkness. And at the instant he knew, he ceased to know.'
Jack London

Chapter One

I was just about to overtake Salvatore when I heard my sister scream. I turned and saw her disappear, swallowed up by the wheat that covered the hill.

I shouldn't have brought her along. Mama would be furious with me.

I stopped. I was sweaty. I got my breath back and called to her: 'Maria? Maria?'

A plaintive little voice answered me: 'Michele.'

'Have you hurt yourself?'

'Yes, come here.'

'Where've you hurt yourself?'

'On the leg.'

She was faking, she was tired. I'm going on, I said to myself. But what if she really was hurt?

Where were the others?

I saw their tracks in the wheat. They were rising slowly, in parallel lines, like the fingers of a hand, towards the top of the hill, leaving a wake of trampled stalks behind them.

The wheat was high that year. In late spring it had rained a...

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About This Book


When Michele Amitrano stumbles onto a boy held prisoner in a hole deep in the Italian countryside, he begins a journey that will lead him to a series of startling discoveries.

I'm Not Scared explores the playful and volatile world of childhood through the eyes of nine-year-old Michele, who is forced, again and again, to make the hard choices that will define his character. As the book opens, he must choose between helping his younger sister or winning a race. Later, he must choose between letting his friend Barbara be humiliated or taking the punishment himself. And as the novel approaches its stunning climax, he must choose between obeying his father and fulfilling the oath he swore to him, or following his ...
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Reviews

Media Reviews

Washington Post

Ammaniti encloses a suspense story as gripping as any Hitchcock thriller.

The Sunday Herald - Lesley McDowell

Beneath this simplicity, Ammaniti weaves in the fairytale metaphors we know so well, giving the novel a haunting profundity.

The New Yorker

The novel is saved from sensationalism by Ammaniti's almost cinematic ability to conjure detail --the look of scraps of meat on a plate, the sheen of a new bike, the whispers of adults in the night -- and by his utterly convincing re-creation of a child's perspective, as Michele's discovery propels him into ever more uncertain territory.

New York Times

Reading I'm Not Scared is an exciting, provocative experience. Ammaniti has distinguished himself as the most talented of his peers.

Baltimore Sun

This book is breathless, and surprising, to the last word.

LA Times

Considered one of Italy's best young novelists today, Ammaniti deftly handles an incredible plot twist.

San Francisco Chronicle

Niccolo Ammaniti is talented, his descriptions of the sun-baked Italian earth give off a heat that singes the reader's fingertips.'

Publishers Weekly

This gripping American debut by Italian novelist Ammaniti captures well the vagaries of childhood the shifting alliances, the casual betrayals and the mix of helplessness and earnest audacity with which children confront adult situations.

Kirkus Reviews

Rich in setting and detail, Ammaniti's third, his first to be published here, rests contentedly on its YA bedrock.

The Times (UK)

The new Italian word for talent is Ammaniti.

The Guardian (UK)

Don’t start it on the way home from work unless the train terminates at your station.

Independent on Sunday (UK) - Nicola Smyth

Ammaniti’s prose is faultless from the first. . . The brevity of his sentences, the clarity ad perfection of each image, gives his novel some of the flavour of a child’s picture book.

David Issacson Daily Telegraph (UK)

I'm Not Scared is an exquisite parable. Ammaniti’s short staccato sentences effectively describe the isolation and simplicity of rural subsistence, while long passages of direct dialogue touchingly portray the children's naïve perceptions.

Reader Reviews

Cyndy

Kidnapping of a childhood
An amazing read - I read this in one afternoon; I could not put it down. But don't expect a typical thriller/mystery - this book is so much more. And don't expect a typical coming-of-age story - this story is so much more. This is a nuanced, ...   Read More

Aimee

What i thought.
I read this book for a school project. I really enjoyed this book because it was very interesting and kind of mysterious. This was the best book I have ever read! hope you enjoyed it to. :)

Ashlea

From the moment i started reading this book i could tell that it was going to be one that i would remember. The detail that Ammaniti goes into is quite exquisite.The way he describes things makes you feel that you are there in the scene. I strongly ...   Read More

Tracey

I think that this book is realy good as I could not put it down. After the first 90 pages I just could not stop reading it! Niccolo` Ammaniti has written this book with insperation and lots of it. I would recomend anyone who has not read this book to...   Read More

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