3 out of 4 stars
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I just finished reading Letters to Sis, an autobiography by CW3 Cesare Giannetti U.S. Army (Ret.). The author describes 9 years of his life as a soldier, mostly stationed outside of the U.S.. During this time, he remains very close to his sister, much more so than to his other siblings and his parents. He corresponds with her on a regular basis, and uses the letters he wrote in the book to document his life in the army. Near the end of the book, he is informed that his sister has her own battle to fight - she gets diagnosed with cancer and after a short fierce battle passes away. The book is written to honour her memory.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I disliked most the start of the book, it is rather slow paced, and it took me some time to warm up to the style of writing and the memories shared. After a few chapters, however, the author manages to take me on his journey, and to show an aspect of military life I am not familiar with. The book focuses on personal life, friendship, the human elements of being a soldier abroad.
The letters Cesare wrote to his sister Marisa are printed in the book, as well as several pictures to document the chapters, and lyrics of songs, parts of poetry and extracts of books - the latter two are part of the letters written to Marisa. I love seeing the pictures to have a better idea of what the author is describing. I also love the letters, including the poetry and book references. I skimmed over most of the song lyrics since I don't know the songs themselves. Just the lyrics without the music do not mean a lot to me, and I only enjoyed those lyrics where I could sing the song along. It would have been sufficient for me to have only the titles mentioned, but it was not a disturbing factor either to have them fully printed out.
Where the title of the book mentions the letters to his sister, the author mentions a lot of other people and relationships in his life. Some are passing acquaintances, others play a bigger role in his life, but most of them are described quite briefly without giving insight into the importance of the relationship long term. At first I was left feeling curious and slightly bothered, and then Marisa got ill.
His all-time favourite person gets ill. Cancer. A serious battle, a horrible fight, and he can only support her from a distance. The happiness of being able to go home and to see everyone. And then Marisa passes away. All of this is documented in what feels like just a few pages, everything happens so fast, and then it is done. The book is finished. No need to come back to the other people he met. I was left with a lot of questions, a lot of frustration, a lot of anger towards this cancer. The author really manages to get his emotions of anger and frustration across, the book leaves a lot of room for thought. I like reading books that do that, books that make me think and feel. I would definitely recommend this book to others.
Letters to Sis
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