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Their Dreams Are Blameless (Sono puri i loro sogni)

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Original Language: Italian | 120 pp. | October 2017

2 Seas represents: World English, Dutch, French, Nordic, and Portuguese Rights.

MEMOIR | NARRATIVE NON-FICTION

When did we stop trusting the teachers and start living the lives of our children? Sometimes being a parent means taking a step backwards. Matteo Bussola has three daughters. He takes them to school, checks their homework, talks to other parents, and takes part in the class’s WhatsApp chat. To sum up, he has a privileged lookout point on the school. So he can bear witness to the fact that, when faced with a bad grade, parents often feel personally called into question and their only answer is to deny the teacher’s authority. This is why he has decided to write to himself, and to the other parents, to try and reflect on the fears and feelings of guilt hidden behind the lack of confidence in the school.

Their Dreams are blameless is a book of stories – his own, but also those of the mothers and fathers he sees, his own mother (who used to be a teacher), and his teacher friends – giving an account of our times and of our children. It is about how, without realizing it, we often overshadow them in order to prevent them from taking a tumble. But there is no growth without crisis, and only by standing aside, whilst still being ready to pick them up if they fall, can we help them to become adults.

From the first day of school onward, when mums and dads, grandparents and siblings, accompany children right into the classroom en masse with the camera clicking away as if it were a Rolling Stones concert, to recommendations about the food – everyone knows that Parmesan cheese has to be left a full 38 months to mature.  From lice, which regularly infest the pupils’ heads each year, giving rise to anxiety and suspicions, to the survival kit for the school trip, which contains virtually everything except a satellite

Matteo Bussola paints an amusing and utterly serious portrait of today’s schools, comparing them to those that existed when he was a kid. And he wonders why we’ve stopped considering them places where you learn respect for yourself and for others.

In the warm and familiar tone that is now his unmistakable mark, taking an attentive look at every story he comes across, he starts out from his own experience to write a letter to us all, getting to the heart of our fear: the fear of “letting our children go into the world and allowing them to make their way, step by step, without us.”

In his past life, Matteo Bussola was an architect. At the age of thirty-five, he decided everything would change. Today he is a father to Virginia, Ginevra, and Melania and draws cartoons for a living. When he has ink to spare, he writes. He has a Facebook profile read by thousands of people, where he has been publishing stories, reflections and short accounts of family life for some years now.

Praise for Sleepless Nights and Kisses For Breakfast

A charming and delightful look at fatherhood. – Publishers Weekly

Richards’s translation reads well, as neither American nor British English but as Italian English, if there is such a thing. Verdict: a perfect summer read that will allow parents, dads especially, to reflect upon their own experiences raising children.
– Library Journal starred review

Bussola has written a heartwarming collection of vignettes about his cosmopolitan life in Verona, Italy, with his wife and three young daughters. What started out as a Facebook journaling project has turned into a best-selling book in Italy. The storytelling skills he’s honed as a successful cartoonist are aptly put to use in this newly translated memoir. – Booklist

Sweet… Charming, ‘near-daily snapshots’ of fatherhood. – Kirkus Reviews