Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Book Review: The Not Wholes by Giovanna Pezzulo

The Not Wholes
By Giovanna Pezzulo
Publisher: Giovanna Pezzulo
Published: January 21, 2014

Amazon Synopsis:


That's how much I paid to become, one day, a famous music star. I'm Leonardo Ponti, I study and live in a conservatory in Italy, and I'm a castrated teen.

In two years I will finish school, but who knows if I will really sing in a majestic opera house, or prostitute in the dirty streets of the harbor?


Gianni and I spent most of the time together, sing difficult songs, and fight back bullies like Cesare who thinks that "the not wholes"—castrated students—are just trash.

Then why my friend stops to talk with me?


Women don't like castrated men, they can't get married, don't have sex, their body is too weak, and 
so on, but Martina, a gorgeous actress, is happy with me.
The rector of the school, not so much. He forbids me to see her.


If the king picks me for his new opera, everybody will know my name.
But my voice … What's happening to my acute voice?

“The not whole” is a young adult historical fiction story about teen and music, school, friendship.

Book Links

My Thoughts:

Set in the 1700’s, The Not Wholes takes us on a journey of the life of one young man who was taken into one of the conservatories in Italy at the age of 10. He was an orphan and in order to keep his youthful voice was castrated.

The Not Wholes is told from Leonardo Ponti’s point of view, the young Castrati at the Conservatory. He, along with the other castrated youth are ostracized and bullied by the paying, unmutilated students at the school. Once you start reading, you totally forget that the book is actually written by a woman. You really feel like a young man is telling the story

The Castrati come from the lower classes of society, usually orphans, runaways or children sold to the school by their parents. The hope of these children is to become famous or at least wealthy enough to survive with dignity once they finish at this difficult school.

The Not Wholes is a fascinating look at a unique topic in human history. This book leaves you glad that you didn’t live in those days having to face the kinds of situations that Leonardo had to face. The pacing of the book was good.

I did find a lot of grammatical and sentence structure errors in this text. I would attribute that to Ms. Pezzulo not being a native English speaker and still struggling with the English language. Either that, or the book was translated from Italian. Keeping that in mind, the book was not all that difficult to understand. (I come from a family where 4 of the spouses that married into the family have English as their second language!)

There was no profanity in the book to speak of and the only graphic scene was of the castration.  Ms. Pezzulo’s flow of ideas was excellent and hopefully in future works the presentation of the English text will reflect that. I very much enjoyed The Not Wholes. I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to the author for providing a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. A positive opinion was not required. All thoughts are my own.

About the Author:

Giovanna Pezzulo is addicted to good stories that don't leave you alone when a book or a movie is over.

She lives in San Diego with her husband and two small kids, but a piece of her heart is still in Italy where she lived for

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