Luca, the narrator of The First True Lie, tells a disturbingly possible tale. He's never known his own father, but his depressed mother "every now and then" tries out a new dad for him, including a man self-employed as an intersection window washer. Luca claims not to mind, probably because these relationships make his mother a bit happier and then he doesn't have to expend so much energy never appearing unhappy himself. Nor does he mind that he's "half an orphan," but he desperately fears becoming an orphan for that would mean (in his imagination) having to conform in an institutional setting rather than being in his own odd but unique family. So, when his mother doesn't wake up one morning, Luca decides he must not let anyone know, even accidentally by being unkempt.
Luca pulls off his deception long enough to make the reader squirm, yet his story is more hopeful than gruesome as he struggles to become an individual. I was bothered not by the telling of the story but the possibility of a child making these choices and suffering alone.
There are some translation hiccoughs that will hopefully be resolved in a final copy. The copy I read was short--under 150 pages. The First True Lie is due out later this month.