Beneath a Scarlet Sky

The story of momentous acts of bravery in the darkest days of WWII Italy, and the young man whose love and faith in humanity shone brighter than the evils of the war.

We never know what will happen next, what we will see, and what important person will come into our life, or what important person we will lose.

— Mark T. Sullivan

Synopsis:

Based on the true story of Pino Lella, a forgotten Italian hero in the darkest days of WWII. A teenager when Allied bombs tear apart his home of Milan, Pino and his brother seek safety in the Alps, and begin to help Jews travel to Switzerland to avoid persecution. Pino’s parents then convince him to enlist in the Germany Army, in hopes to keep him far from battle. Pino becomes the trusted driver of General Hans Leyers, Hitler’s leading general in Italy. With a prime opportunity to spy for the Allies, Pino endures horrors of the war on his driving errands with Leyers. Through this, he remains courageous and looks forward to living out his life with his love, Anna, when the war ends.

Life is change, constant change, and unless we are lucky enough to find comedy in it, change is nearly always a drama, if not a tragedy.

— Mark T. Sullivan

Review:

Pino Lella is the unsung hero of German-occupied Italy in WWII. Equal parts humble and confident, Pino braved danger others ran from and witnessed horrors almost too shocking to believe.

The only reason that this powerful story isn’t considered a memoir for Pino Lella is due to the German Army’s massive destruction of documents that would have corroborated his story. After reading this novel, Mr. Lella said that 90% is truth. Knowing that Mark T. Sullivan had to fictionalize certain aspects, that’s still a really amazing amount of never-before known facts about these important players in the Italian front of WWII.

My main critique is the length of the novel. At over 500 pages, it felt a little heavy on detail of some of the errands that Pino Lella went on with General Leyers. Nothing was useless knowledge, but it just caused the story to lag once in a while. A tighter edit would have helped keep the suspense intact. BUT – I realize that Mr. Sullivan researched this story for TEN YEARS before publishing, so the fact that this story is under a thousand pages shows how hard he worked to keep to the essential details.

This story was so tragic and hopeful, spirited and bleak. It is so heartening to read about the courageous acts that Pino Lella performed under such dire circumstances, despite him viewing himself as a coward (spoiler if I revealed why). There are so many people who do tiny acts every day that add up to so much, that make such a difference to others. I am so thankful that Mark T. Sullivan stumbled upon the never-before heard story of Pino Lella, spent a decade researching and interviewing, and has shared this story with the world.

But after everything, and even when the skies turn scarlet and threatening, I still believe that if we are lucky enough to be alive, we must give thanks for the miracle of every moment of every day, no matter how flawed.

— Mark T. Sullivan

Beneath a Scarlet Sky
by Mark T. Sullivan
Kindle Edition, 526 pages
Published December 2017 by Lake Union Publishing

Summary

The story of momentous acts of bravery in the darkest days of German-occupied Italy in WWII, and the young man whose love and faith in humanity shone brighter than the evils of the war. Pino Lella is an unsung hero. Equal parts humble and confident, Pino braved danger others ran from and witnessed horrors almost too shocking to believe. I highly recommend this story, and I enjoyed listening to it on audiobook!

— Cassie
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