My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante is about two girls named Elena Greco and Lila Cerullo who meet while they are in primary school. This book is set in Naples during the 1950s period when they were young. Lila is exceptionally gifted in school, creating a competitive friendship between the two of them. Elena desperately wants to be as good, if not better than Lila. Elena and Lila partner together to face similar experiences, such as violence and abuse that occurs in their houses and in their city. They bond over similar lifestyles and backgrounds that they both come from. Together they face the needs of school, getting older and experiencing life, and making friends. They go through changes like switching from primary to middle to high school, and meeting new people, but also losing people. Being book one of Ferrante’s four-book collection, it is definitely an interesting read.
I have mixed feelings about this book. Personally, I like how Ferrante captured how it is to grow up in Naples and how going through different life stages can be scary because it is unfamiliar. I love the friendship between Lila and Elena, and how they support each other while getting older and experiencing new things. However, there were a few points that I did not really like about this book, like how repetitive the days could sometimes get in terms of Elena going to school, especially with competitive grades and wanting to be the best in class. I felt like it could have been less focused on in the book. At times, the large number of characters in the book got confusing; I liked the array of characters because I felt like it gave the story more foundation and made it more interesting, but without the character list at the start of the book, I think I would’ve been lost. If you would like to read this book, I would say go for it because it’s not bad either way!