In a poor, midcentury Italian neighborhood, two girls, Elena and Lila, exhibit remarkable intelligence early in school, at a time when money is scarce and education a privilege, especially for girls. Only Elena is allowed to continue in school, and she devotes herself to her studies, while Lila redirects her own talent toward her family’s business. The girls use each other, sometimes as crutches, sometimes as inspiration, but as they approach adolescence, their friendship is challenged by their changing bodies and attitudes toward the world. Elena increasingly turns toward education as a means of escaping, while Lila looks to her burgeoning beauty as a means of altering the violence and bitterness that threaten their neighborhood. The first book in a prospective trilogy, My Brilliant Friend is a compelling and moving coming-of-age story set in an impoverished neighborhood struggling to come into its own in a rapidly shrinking world.
Elizabeth Renzetti is a national columnist with The Globe and Mail. Elizabeth’s first novel, Based on a True Story, was published by House of Anansi Press in June 2014, and became a national bestseller. It was also published in 2015 by Allen & Unwin (Australia) and Atlantic Books (UK). Her collection of original essays, Shrewed, was published in March, 2018 by House of Anansi Press.
For a dozen years, Elizabeth was a correspondent in the Globe’s London and Los Angeles bureaus, where she learned to shake her fist at the sun and the rain with equal vigour. While avoiding cleaning, she enjoys old movies, horse racing, travel, and not cleaning.
She lives in Toronto with her husband, two children and a cat named Perdu who keeps getting lost.