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Nothing Else in the World (Nient’altro al mondo)

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Original Language: Italian | 224 pp. | February 2018

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

LITERARY FICTION 

Sometimes life gives two people the same experience at the same time. That’s what happens to Alma and Maria, who both find out they are pregnant in the same few months. They are at different stages in their lives, yet suddenly their lives seem very similar. They’ve felt this many times in the past. They were classmates in high school, and since then have shared many experiences, comforted each other when they were unhappy, and laughed together at the same things, even though they now live far apart and have gone down different paths in life.

Now they’ve both heard the news that changes everything, the kind of news you’ve longed to hear but which, when you hear it, fills you with fear and alarm.

But their experiences soon move in different directions: Alma’s dream goes on for month after month, whereas Maria’s ends one cold autumn day, leaving a terrible sense of emptiness. This is the time when their friendship needs to show its strength. Each of them has to find space for the other, suppressing her own grief or joy. For grief and joy can merge together, switch places, and spring surprises. People can be fragile and strong at the same time. Alma and Maria discover how hard it can to express your deepest feelings. But it’s not so hard if the other person is someone who can listen, someone who has done so for years without asking for anything in exchange. Someone who makes you feel that nothing else in the world matters but you.

Alma and Maria learn from experience that motherhood is a journey through the outside world, but also through their inner lives, whatever its final outcome may be, and whatever obstacles present themselves. There are countless ways of being a mother, a friend, or a woman.

This first novel, co-written by two authors, is both deft and profound. It succeeds in diving down to the origin of emotions, bringing them up to the surface and giving them a name. It’s a story about motherhood and friendship, about unspoken things which make themselves clearly heard, about forced choices that open up unexplored paths. It’s a story in which two women gain the strength to face the uncertainties of destiny from knowing that they’re walking hand in hand.