Weekly Reads: Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Photo Credit // Emily Dickinson

Content Warning: The book has some brutal scenes described in great detail. 

“If a bomb’s coming at you, it’s coming at you. You can’t go around worrying about it. Just go on doing what you love, and go on enjoying your life.”

― Mark Sullivan, “Beneath a Scarlet Sky”

This is one of those jaw-dropping, unbelievable books. No matter how long you take to think about it, you can and never will wrap your head around it. The stories within these pages are all based on true people and events. They are about an Italian teenager by the name of Pino Lella and his life through World War II.

Pino is a normal teen living in an extraordinary time. The Allies bomb the city of Milan, causing Pino’s mamma, brother and sister to flee. Once the Allied bombs destroy the Lella family’s home, Pino flees to the Swiss Alps where his brother Mimo is staying. Pino joins Father Re and his brother in helping Jews escape across the Alps into Switzerland. Throughout this, Pino thinks about the woman he loves in order to get through each day.

Anna is a woman six years Pino’s senior. But she is the love of his life. As the war progresses, Pino turns eighteen and must enlist or acknowledge the fact that he will be drafted. His parents force him to enlist as a German soldier out of fear for Pino’s life. After Pino gets injured, fate leads him to become the personal driver for General Hans Leyers, Adolf Hitler’s left-hand commander in Italy.

Everyone thinks Pino is a traitor for allowing his parents to enlist him. Even his brother Mimo and best friend Carletto turn their backs on him. But what they don’t know is that Pino is using this opportunity to spy on the Germans. He makes risky choices to help aid the Partisans. 

“Beneath a Scarlet Sky” is a book of horror and wonder. It is unlike any WWII book seen before. Pino’s story is that of romance, lost innocence and unearthing the dark side of humanity. Mark Sullivan did an amazing job of portraying Pino’s story. He was able to capture each pivotal moment of Pino’s life in an emotionally inducing way.

If you like books about war, romance, brutality and the truth, then this biographical novel is for you.