[Reviewed by Bruce Roberts]
Several years ago, the brother of one of my wife’s students took his own life. The family, of course, was devastated, but his younger sister, in my wife’s class, seemed to forge right on. The mother would call, asking if the girl was distracted, emotional, falling behind, but no, she seemed to be operating normally, despite her brother’s death. Her grief—internalized—never appeared in public.
That grief takes many forms is a major theme of Quiet Chaos, a novel by Sandro Veronesi. The plot grows from one particular day in the life of Pietro Paladini, the main character; a day in which he nearly loses his life saving a drowning woman, then goes home to discover that his soon-to-be bride, the mother of Claudia, his ten year old daughter, has unexpectedly died.
He, of course, expects the worst reaction from Claudia, and to assure that he—a good father—will be there when she needs him, he decides to wait in his car across the street from her school as long it takes to see her through this toughest of times. And wait he does. Every day! He drops her off for school, parks the car, and waits until she reemerges at day’s end. She even begins waving out the window at him as she changes classes. What she doesn’t do though, is fall apart with grief.