4 out of 4 stars
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Letters to Sis by Cesare Giannetti is a memoir that follows his journey in the U.S army between the years of 1987 to 1996. During his years of service, he consistently writes letters to his loved ones. Most of his letters are written to his sister, Marisa, who he considers to be his closest loved one. These letters are incorporated into the book, hence its name.
The book starts off in 1987, with 17-year-old Giannetti on his way to basic army training. Though he faces challenges, he quickly adapts to his new environment and thrives. He then moves to an army barracks in Germany where he faces numerous adversities, as he is in a foreign country and his army duties become more and more intense. However, in true Giannetti fashion, he overcomes and thrives in this new environment, forging new friendships and some romantic relationships. His time in Germany enables him to travel the European continent and even return home for some holidays. Though he enjoys his time there, it's no doubt that he misses his family, especially his sister.
He participates in the Gulf War of 1991 and a peacekeeping mission in Bosnia in 1995 and attests to the fact that his written interactions with his sister are what kept him going. Around this time, he receives heartbreaking news centred around his sister, changing the path the story once took. Regardless of this, Giannetti remains positive and continues to write to her. Towards the end of the book, Giannetti provides readers with a more intimate look at his life, his relationship with his sister and his family. In the end, everything comes together in a full-circle moment, that left me feeling an array of emotions. However, I cannot lie and say it wasn't a good ending. It was the perfect ending to a beautiful story.
What I loved most about this book is that it was such an easy read. The story flowed so well and I must give it to Giannetti. With the many letters in the book and some flashbacks here and there, the story managed to flow. I didn't feel like I was going back and forth. I also felt like he was talking to me as I read. It was as if we were having a conversation and he was telling me his story.
As someone with limited understanding of the army, I understood what Giannetti was trying to relay, as he explained all the jargons he used in the book. For example, TOC stands for Tactical Operation Center. I never felt lost and never had to research any terms as I understood what he was talking about. He also dives into a bit of history, which helps you understand the times, but it's not too technical, making it easy to understand.
Though this book is a memoir about a guy in the army, it has some very relatable moments that most, if not all of us have gone through at a point. I related to the aspects of family he wrote about, the need to enjoy your youth, how loving someone can cause one so much pain, and so much more. This only goes to show that we as humans are connected in more ways than we know.
I also loved the fact that he included pictures in the book. It was nice to put faces to the people mentioned.
These factors, among many others, are what made the book flow in such a beautiful way and made it an easy read.
The only negative aspect is that some paragraphs were too long. This, however, was such a minute detail, as very few paragraphs were like this.
Overall, I rate the book 4 out of 4 stars. The story flowed well, it was relatable and was easy to understand and read. I see myself reading this book again in a few years. It was also professionally edited, with very few errors.
I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy non-fiction books that talk about life, its many complexities and warm moments. I would also recommend it to readers who enjoy learning more about life in the army. With that being said, the book contains infrequent vulgarity.
Letters to Sis
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