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Set in an Italian seaside village where every man’s life revolves around soccer, this compelling novel tells the story of a widowed butcher and his son whose losses are transformed into love.
The death of his twin brother and subsequent suicide of his mother leaves twenty-two-year-old Etto adrift in his small town on the Italian Riviera. A misanthrope and a cynic, Etto is faced with the seemingly impossible prospect of cobbling together the remaining pieces of his life, including his mostly nonexistent relationship with his father, the town butcher.
Things begin to change for Etto when Yuri Fil, a scandalized Ukrainian soccer star and his tough-love sister, Zhuki, arrive in town, and sweep him into their universe of soccer, celebrity, laughter, and fierce loyalty. Under their influence, Etto begins to reconstruct his relationship with his father and learns a few life lessons: that perhaps the game of soccer isn’t just a waste of time—and that San Benedetto, his father, love, and life itself might have more to offer him than he ever believed possible.
Loosely following the trajectory of Dante’s Divine Comedy, Etto finally learns to make peace with both the tragedy of his past and the direction of his future.