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Early One Morning    by Virginia Baily order for
Early One Morning
by Virginia Baily
Order:  USA  Can
Little, Brown & Co., 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

It's 1943 and Chiara Ravello lives with her beautiful sister Cecilia in occupied Rome. It's challenging in so many ways, including the fact that Cecilia was brain-damaged by uncontrollable seizures during epileptic fits as a child.

Chiara is about to flee the city for their grandparents' house in the hills when she receives a call from a Resistance contact - she and others have been helping the Jews of Rome. It turns out that the Nazis are rounding up Jewish families. As Chiara watches in horror, an opportunity arises to save one child, a little boy named Daniele Levi. She takes it, claiming that the child is her nephew and not a Jew.

The story then moves back and forth in time, showing the rippling effect of Chiara's decision on many lives - her own, her sister's, Daniele's and those whose lives intersect with his. We meet a teenager, Maria in 1973 Cardiff, Wales as she deals with the discovery that the man she has always considered her father is not her birth father. She eventually contacts Chiara and journeys to Rome in search of answers - and in so doing helps Chiara find closure of her own.

I liked Early One Morning because it is so credible, not glossing over the trauma suffered by a small child in such horrendous circumstances and showing how it might damage him and those who are close to him. But, though it is a tragic tale, it's also an inspiring one, with glimmerings of hope throughout.

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