I HAVE FRIENDS IN HEAVEN by Max Catto

I HAVE FRIENDS IN HEAVEN

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Caesar, a twelve year old Italian boy, by-blow of WWII's invading English Army and motherless since early childhood, is a refreshing change in adolescent boy heroes. He recognizes the approach of manhood as a cause for rejoicing and as a signal that his already healthy pride can increase. Caesar was in jail when his mountain village was destroyed by an earthquake. He was there because Luigi, a faker of antiques, wanted his head. Caesar had found a marble head of the Great Julius, his namesake. Needing a symbol and needing to believe in his own destiny, Caesar adopted the head as his genealogy, proof of future power, and was ready to defend his ownership of the head with everything he had. What he's got after the earthquake is the marble head and the Italian Army on his hands. Only Luigi, with his family, Caesar and the young daughter of the owner of a mangy travelling circus survived. The Army wanted to take them to Naples. Caesar wanted to go to Rome. Soon, he has declared war on the whole Italian Army. Together with the circus owner's daughter and the remaining animals, Caesar sets off and his odyssey through the pestilential countryside calls on all his awakening sense of male responsibility and his native resourcefulness. The nuns he acquires in spite of himself and the statue of ""God and his Mother"" that they must return to Rome increase his burden, especially since they set out to save his soul. There is a visual flow to the narrative and a continual balancing off between sentiment and high comic relief. Great Caesar's ghost! -- it's intelligent fun.

Publisher: Little, Brown