Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers' Favorite
Sooner or later, each of us will lose a loved one or friend as a result of illness or old age. When it happens, the heartache and feelings of loss and emptiness are devastating. For Luca Favaro, author of The Sun in a Tear, the heartache of that loss was an often repeated and unanticipated experience once he became a male nurse in hospitals and long term care facilities in Northern Italy. Little did a young Luca expect that he could come to mean so much to his patients, or they to him. As a super shy young boy growing up, he felt so alone and distant from his father and dismissed by his family, that he was considered the black sheep. When in his early working years the family heard a patient speak highly of him, his mother heartlessly asked if that person was sure he/she was speaking of her son.
But yes, that person was speaking of Luca, and as one reads about the relationships Luca Favaro developed with many of his terminally ill patients in The Sun in a Tear, it’s easy to see why he found such love and a sense of belonging he never enjoyed in his family home. Each patient he tended came to love Luca for the beautiful person he is as a result of how he looked after them and cared for them beyond the call of duty. He mourned each of them when they passed and readers mourn with him. Along the way too, Luca learned so much from each of these patients. He learned that "Being capable does not mean being capable of doing everything, but it means to be able to recognize our limits and stop to burden others with them. If we can't do something, there is someone else who will,” and that “The true man is the one who is also able to cry without shame, with dignity” because “Tears are very important to re-establish the psychological balance of human beings.” He learned that “In some life moments there aren't wiser answers than silence” and came to the conclusion, when working with Alessandro, that "In some ways the mentally disabled, being so childlike and simple, are happier than we are. They don't grow into prejudiced, judgmental human beings."
When Luca tells us about how 200 guests stood around celebrating and enjoying themselves at Christmas while their wealthy host’s wife, the very ill, diabetic Lucia, lay alone and forgotten in a corner of that room, we feel Luca’s justified anger and sadness. And we nod our heads in agreement when Luca Favaro reminds us that what the elderly need is not to be advised, not to be judged, but to be listened to. So true. If you don’t read the introduction to The Sun in a Tear, you may not realize that what you are reading is a translation. As a result, some expressions are awkward and the spelling and grammar are far from perfect. But it doesn’t matter. That is the last thing you will remember about this beautiful book. Read it and grown in love, as Luca Favaro did.