My Brilliant Friend Review


A 2011 New York Times bestseller, My Brilliant Friend, by Elena Ferrante, is a book that every woman should take the time to read. This 331-page memoir grips the reader until the very end.

Originally written in Italian, My Brilliant Friend is a gut wrenching, yet beautiful, portrayal of the life of a young girl Lenύ, in the 1950s.  Lenύ grows up in a poor Italian ghetto with her “friend” Lila. Though connected at the hip, Lenύ’s jealousy and Lila’s fierce intelligence cause tension between the young girls. As the two girls get older,  Lenύ continues with school, but Lila is too poor and drops out.  Lenύ finds herself in the position of becoming better and smarter than Lila, causing tension and cracks in their friendship. Following them through their adolescence and friendship as they mature into women, Ferrante’s rich language and emotions cause the readers to become a part of this troublesome life.

The mystery behind My Brilliant Friend is not one hidden in the pages but in the author. Ferrante, a pen-name, is a mysterious woman that no one knows much about. People have guessed and investigated, but it remains unknown who the real Elena Ferrante is and where this novel came from. Is this the life of a real young girl growing up in Italy? Ferrante’s response in a letter to her publisher was simple,  “I believe that books, once they are written, have no need of their authors. If they have something to say, they will sooner or later find readers; if not, they won’t.”

The story of Lenύ and Lila doesn’t end here. This four-book series, released in over 50 countries, takes the reader through their whole lives with The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of a Lost Child. Every woman’s youth, friendship, happiness, and sadness are reflected in this amazing story. If one wants to feel enlightened and powerful, My Brilliant Friend is a guide to just that.