This review is from: Portofino (Hardcover)
I am surprised than no reviewers here have picked up on the fact that this is not so much a novel as a sort of autobiography. Despite the standard fiction disclaimer of no relation to living or dead persons the author has subsequently referred to semi-autobiographical novels and his Crazy For God autobiography published in 2007. In both cases an American Presbyterian missionary family resident in Switzerland holiday in Portofino. Their US sending church denomination splits. The father is bad tempered and violent but not so pious as the mother, she of long prayers and embarrassing evangelism. The boy narrator goes to boarding school in England. He has learning difficulties. Sex plays a big part in his young life. His pious elder sister are good obedient little missionaries. He is not. He loves to be with the local homosexual artist. All these are in the recent autobiography so how much of the rest is fiction is open to question.
The author is gifted in his descriptive writing of Italy and his adolescent development rings true but unless I had known some of this family in real life I would not have found it a gripping plot. His mother's agressive evangelism and his father's violence are hard to believe. Calvin Becker is an angry young missionary kid. Frank Schaeffer seems to be still angry even now in his fifties.