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Reviewed by Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers' Favorite
Michelle Saftich's historical fiction story, Port of No Return, follows the Saforo family’s struggle for survival in war-torn Europe between 1944-1950. In German-occupied Italy, Ettore Saforo is a mechanic employed to maintain German ships and submarines in Fiume, a strategic seaport. In 1944, an air raid destroys the Saforo family's home. Ettore, his wife Contessa, their children Taddeo, Nardo, Marietta, and Martino, and Contessa's mother Nonna find refuge at their friends’ farm. Ettore flees for his life as Fiume comes under the Yugoslavian occupation. The action, pace, and tension intensify. Contessa, Nonna and the children escape to the Allied Forces' refugee camp in Trieste. In 1945, Ettore and his family are reunited at the Trieste camp. Is there a chance for them to start a new life in a safe country?
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Michelle Saftich's Port of No Return because at the heart it is a tale of love, hope, and resilience in times of intense turmoil and extreme deprivation. I liked the interweaving of Ettore's and Contessa's lives with those of other families, of unexpected friendships and compassion in the harsh conditions of refugee camps. I loved the character development of the children, the way they cope with living in refugee camps. I loved the way Michelle Saftich brings out the children's curiosity, their hopes, fears, and their protection of each other through terrifying and life-threatening experiences. I liked the interweaving of joy and sorrow, tears and laughter, even as the family sails from Genoa toward a new life. A stirring historical novel of a family that learns to hope and live again.