The Good Old Days in China are over by the time Rafaella turns eight. She knows war and privation as she breathes air. She is 18 when she and her parents reach Italy with almost no money. Her father dying, Rafaella finds herself head of the family. In Naples, they are shunted to a refugee relocation camp in bombed-out Catania, Sicily, not a city in 1952 where a job can be found. Borrowing the train fare, Rafaella travels to Rome and there looks up her shipboard friend, Stefano. He seems to know Rome well already, and impresses Rafaella with his self-assurance. A cynical young man, he has observed that Italians liked to observe the public conventions while dodging them in private. Rafaella, too, begins learning how to live in this new country. Her journey is a process that engages all sense and wit. Learning has a price. As she looks back upon the landscape of her life, she assesses the different faces of courage she has known and recognizes the strong heart imbued in every one of them.
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