Page 45 Review by Stephen
Now that is a cover.
Against all your understandable expectations, it is not a scene that happens anywhere in this ever-so-sad graphic novel.
By the time the rain pours down back in Italy, Piero will have stopped doing anything so care free as riding that bike and Lucia will no longer be such an inexperienced teenager caught in the summer-sunshine of its headlights.
Lucia will have moved on and then on again, but Piero the worrier will still be dwelling about what he had and what he lost, and why. Alas, self-knowledge was never his forte.
No, it's not a scene that happens anywhere, but it does encapsulate the whole perfectly. For although it begins in the blinding lemon-yellow and lime-green of a blissfully hot summer in Italy when adult concerns and parental practicalities seemed so constrictive, restrictive and dull, the rain begins falling almost immediately between each consecutive chapter in one drop, two drops, three drops then four as Lucia and Piero find themselves 5000 substantial kilometres and one second apart.
Après ça, le déluge.
This is a graphic novel rammed full of possessive jealousy, one of the most potent poisons in any relationship, pushing away everything and everyone it seeks to contain and sustain.
Lucia will bear the brunt of it not just once but shockingly twice. The second time when she is far more vulnerable is perhaps infinitely worse but in any case it is telling that after escaping the first she writes to Piero, "I felt like I could breathe again."
As to Piero, well, we've already established that he's far from self-aware so if he's the victim as well as the culprit of this sort of smothering intensity and it singularly fails to register, do not be surprised.
It is oh so cleverly crafted with Piero's childhood friend, Nicola - sweet, loving, loyal and uninhibitedly tactile Nicola - caught to one side / in the middle.
"From the moment we got together Nicola became so jealous," says Lucia." Not that he liked me... he was just scared of losing his friend."
Entirely understandable: not only had Piero's eyes alighted upon new arrival Lucia, but he was also about to move away soon to university while Nicola, far less gifted academically, was always going to stay behind and take over his father's shop. Yet in spite of all this - in spite of his friend about to leave him behind on the metaphorical beach (see ROBOT DREAMS), Nicola did nothing wrong.
Fior's forte for me came in the form his portraits of a mature Lucia, out to dinner, so happy to be laughing until she could barely catch her breath, then quietly and with defence-free dignity considering her failure in love, after which her face almost implodes with grief (?) embarrassment (?) at what she considers her diminished appeal. I remove one spoiler yet this remains:
"I teach literature at a provincial technical school. I've gotten as fat as a cow."
She really hasn't. But the worst face comes later when Piero just won't let it lie.
Expect telling dream sequences, anger, resentment and an unexpected element of futurism dropped in at the end.