Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Review: Bella A Novel by Steve Piacente

Wilderowens scored herself entrance to Book Expo America and came away with tons of books to read, several of which were autographed by the authors (she is the swag queen. Seriously. If you want to learn how to score the most free stuff at a con, become her padawan.) We all took a few books to read, as you’ll find out over the next few months. For me, the first book I finished was Bella, A Novel by Steve Piacente.

Bella is the story of a young widow whose husband was killed in Afghanistan and the reporter, Danny Patragno, she enlists to prove the military lied about how he died. The story follows them as they come up against various obstacles in their search for the truth. It is a story about betrayal, justice and love.

The opening pages of the story I found to be awkward, and it bothered me a lot. I was not sure where the author was going and even considered stopping. Luckily, I rarely give up on a book that quickly. If I had, I would have missed out on a wonderful story.

The story itself is a little formulaic. If you read books or watch tv shows about coverups and getting justice for the little man, then you have a basic idea about where the story is heading, but what makes it so interesting is not the part about getting justice for the dead soldier and his widow; it is the story of Danny Patragno and how his life is affected by Bella walking into it.

I would not say Danny is going through a midlife crisis during this but there are some significant events happening when he meets Bella, and I believe that is partly why he makes certain decisions. He is constantly in a state of conflict, whether is it about the story or his personal life. What I like about Mr. Piacente’s portrayal is how believable he is. Danny is a fully fleshed out character. He is someone you or I know.

Bella, on the other hand, is a little harder to digest because of how she treats Danny, but at the same time, while we never truly find out what is going on inside her mind, we do believe her pain and how the death of her husband has affected her. Danny describes her “damaged, wounded and dangerous.” I think that is the best way to sum her up, but it is important to remember, she is not the villain of this story. Some of her actions can be described as callous or hurtful, but that is a direct result of her husband’s death.

This book is both tragic as well as hopeful. A horrible incident happens, certain people do bad things, and others fight to fix them. As I said, it’s a story we have all heard before, though there are a few really great twists, but Mr. Piacente has a way with words and makes the story feel fresh. If you are like me and think the opening is a little odd, hang in for the next chapter because the book really takes off from there. It is well-paced and sucks you in. You won’t even notice time has flown because you're so absorbed in reading it.

Another reason you should pick up this book is Mr. Piacente self-published it. He chronicles his adventures on his blog while also offering advice on how to successfully get your work out there. It is a great way to get an inside look at how the internet helped change how books are published and marketed to today's audience.

If you like stories involving government coverups and the people determined to bring them to light, then you will like this. If you don't believe me, take a look at the official Bella trailer and judge for yourself. Then go get the book.

You can learn more about Bella at

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