My Brilliant Friend is the emotional and compelling story of two girls growing up in post-war Italy. The girls share a deep and complex friendship that begins in the first grade. Intense jealousies and cruel rivalries are offset with innocent dreams and youthful fantasies. Ferrante explores the very real currents of violence and poverty in what ends up as a universal story about adolescence. It isn't a plot-driven novel, and it is clearly only the first part of a story continued in sequels The Story of a New Name and Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay. So, yes, it is an investment of time, but My Brilliant Friend is worthy investment of time and the writing will blow you away.
Beginning in the 1950s Elena and Lila grow up in Naples, Italy, mirroring two different aspects of their nation.