The Sun and Other Stars
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

The Sun and Other Stars

3.97 of 5 stars 3.97  ·  rating details  ·  193 ratings  ·  68 reviews
Set in a seaside village on the Italian Riviera, this irresistible new novel by PEN/Hemingway Award-winner Brigid Pasulka tells the story of a widowed butcher and his son whose losses are transformed into love.

After losing his brother and mother within a year, twenty-two-year-old Etto finds himself adrift in his hometown, where every man’s life revolves around soccer, exce...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published February 4th 2014 by Simon & Schuster (first published August 13th 2013)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,810)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
3.5 stars

I won this ARC as part of a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

If I were to have rated this based on the first half of the story it would have had a three star rating and if I were to have rated it based only on the last half it would have received a four star rating. I compromised and gave it a 3.5.

If you are not a fan of soccer or calcio as described in this book then this may not be the read for you. This storyline is heavy on soccer and soccer references. I in fact...more
Zoe Brown
I couldn't resist this book - but then, I didn't try very hard. I once got to spend time in a small Italian town like the fictitous San Benedetto of this book and I still walk around that little walled city in my imagination to calm myself on sleepless nights. No doubt I romanticize life there; the sun, the sense of community, the rambling streets and collection of tiny shops run by local eccentrics all make that inevitable. I'm aware that I'm romanticizing, but for once I just don’t fight it. O...more
I can't recall a recent read that I loved more than this one. Captured me from the very first page, and kept me enthralled throughout. Please do yourself a favor and read this immediately. You will laugh, you will cry, you will cheer, you will be reminded of the very best parts of our humanity. Brigid, if you see this, my only fear is catching up on your other work. I don't see how I can love another novel quite as much as this one. Bravo!
Shonna Froebel
This novel takes place in the village of San Benedetto on the Italian Riviera. Etto is twenty-two years old and unfocused in his life. Two years ago his twin brother died in an accident, and a year ago his mother died, perhaps accident, perhaps deliberate. He lives with his father and works in his father's butcher shop. His friends try to draw him out, but he resists them, participating socially only in the most perfunctory way. Etto's brother Luca was a soccer star, a sport known as calcio here...more
Penny McGill
As soon as I finished this book I knew that I'd come back to this book again and again and this feeling has totally surprised me. It's a story about a young man, living in a small town in Italy, working in his father's butcher shop. None of those things should appeal to me - there is very romance here, there are no period dresses, no great sweeping dialogue with the possibility for more dialogue, all the things I love - but I was torn up by Etto and his life from the moment I met him. Then (I fo...more
Paul Pessolano
“The Sun and Other Stars” by Brigid Pasulka, published by Simon and Schuster.

Category – Fiction/Literature Publication Date – February 04, 2014

Things are about to change in the Italian Riviera town of San Benedetto and the change could well be due to the sport of soccer.

Etto, at twenty-two years old, is dealing with the death of his twin brother and his mother. He is also in a negative relationship with his father, the town butcher. His life seems to be going no where. He works in his father’s...more
Lolly LKH
You don't have to be a Calcio (football for Europeans, soccer for Americans) fan to fall for this novel. Twenty-two year old Etto, of the town of San Benedetto, has just lost his twin brother Luca (a star player of soccer) in a motorcycle accident and then his mother drowns herself in grief, committing suicide during a swim. Luca was his father's favorite son, sharing a bond over Calcio, while Etto shared a special bond with their mother. Etto, feeling abandoned by his mother's desperate act, sp...more
I really loved the author's first book (A Long Long Time Ago and Essentially True), but this second book just didn't do it for me.

I don't tend to be drawn to modern stories, especially with sports as a theme, but I figured I'd just give this one a try. The book started off well enough, and the writing style felt familiar and was pleasant at first. It sort of lost that feel though, and with it went my interest. I never really became that attached to any of the characters, especially the main cha...more
Josh Mlot
Sometimes I'm apt to pick up a book due to something that's going on in real life, and in this case I pulled "The Sun and Other Stars" by Brigid Pasulka off my bookshelf to celebrate the World Cup this summer. Why? Because calcio (the Italian word for soccer/football) is a driving force in this novel.

This is not a story about soccer, though my love of the sport certainly helped me to enjoy the book more, appreciating some of its references and some of the philosophical musings on the game — "We...more
Sharon Chance
Let me first say that if you know nothing about soccer, you will by the time you finished reading "The Sun and Other Stars!" Author Brigid Pasulka delivers a charming and thoughtful story of a son's difficult relationship with his soccer-obsessed father and how the game just might bring the two back together, with a little help a soccer star and his sister.

Pasulka fills this story with a large cast of fascinating characters - from Etto, the butcher's son to Fede, the "playboy" friend to Zhuki,...more
...a celebration of life...and calcio!

Life in an Italian village like San Benedetto has inoculated Etto against joining the chatter about leaving, against being a 'big talker in a long line.' It seems that those who do talk the talk or walk the talk either never leave or can't help but eventually return. Hence Etto's reluctance to contemplate sketching big dreams. This is one of the truths that this 22 year old contemplates. There are as we discover other reasons.
Revolving around soccer or calci...more
I won this ARC as part of a Goodreads giveaway in exchange for an honest review.

The Sun and Other Stars a well written story revolving around a small town on the Italian Rivera. Ultimately, it's what I would call a "calm" book. It moves slowly. Pasulka builds the city, creates all the citizens, each with side stories and personalities. I had read other reviews that said the book moved slowly at first until Zhuki arrived. But she arrived fairly quickly and the first few chapters are definitely im...more
Nancy Croth
I give this book four stars, not because of the literary quality of it but because the character development was superb. Told in the voice of the 'star' of the story, the reader becomes enmeshed in his life but also the life of the village of San Benedetto. An easy read and one to reinforce the notion of the healing power of love both from an individual and communal perspective.
Originally published on my blog at

The Sun and Other Stars ended up surprising me, in a very good way.

I was worried I wouldn't be able to fall into the rhythm of this book. Once I got used to the Italian slang and other vernacular quirks I sunk in and enjoyed myself thoroughly.

I was worried that the subject of soccer would be lost on me. That wasn't the case at all. The game of soccer is a wonderful backdrop. It brings people together. It knits father to son. It inspires a...more
Tracey G
Read this review and more over at My Library Card

a copy of the book was won through Goodreads

i don't like reviewing books that didn't give me any strong feelings about it. it's easier to write about a book that you absolutely love or completely loathe. this book was just...okay. i didn't hate it but i failed to fall in love with the story. it look me a long time to start reading it. it almost got to the point when i thought i would abandon it. i am glad that i stuck with it because i enjoyed rea...more
This is a wonderfully thoughtful tale of loss and of love. Etto lives in San Benedetto, a small village in Italy, "the last place on Earth that is simple and pure; where they really know how to, you know, live."

He lives with his Papa, the town butcher.

Two years ago, Luca, Etto's twin brother, was killed. A year ago, Etto's Mamma went missing and her body was later recovered.

"One of the things you'll find when you lose someone close to you is how complex a network of wires and cables you've buil...more
Twenty-two year old Etto lives in the small resort seaside town of San Benedetto in Italy. The story takes place a year after he loses both his twin brother and his mother. His father is the local butcher. His father is obsessed with soccer, as was his brother. Etto often retreats to the hills above the town to "talk" to his brother.
Yuri Fil is a soccer star who is retreating as well, only from international scandal. He winds up in San Benedetto with his sister, the lovely Zhuki. They strike up...more
Carol Tracy
Intelligent fiction with heart. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it, taking my time, getting to know the characters. (I even picked up some Italian slang words.) It's a great view of life in an Italian seaside village.
Kristin Shafel Omiccioli
I won an ARC from the Goodreads First Reads program for a fair and honest review.

I feel about half-and-half on The Sun and Other Stars—I half really enjoyed it and half slogged. The beginning of the book was great and engaging; I felt transported to sleepy little San Benedetto right away and appreciated Etto’s voice and felt empathy for him in his losses. I loved the San Benedetto locals, too—I thought they were all full of character and interesting back stories (however brief). Setting The Sun...more
Carol Kersten
I came across this book purely by accident, knowing nothing about it but seeing it on the new book shelf at our local public library. The book grew on me as I read it, and I became more and more engrossed in the simple story of a resident of a small seaside town on the Italian coast not far from Genoa. The book has a thought-provoking story of the main character and soccer plays a role, but the book is really about the life journey of the main character and about cultural aspects of small town I...more
Oh, I didn't want this story to end! Or rather I wanted to be transported to the beautiful Ligurian seaside village of San Benedetto to live amongst the charming characters who really care about and for each other. Alas...
The story is about Etto whose twin brother, the local soccer star, has been killed in a motorbike accident, and whose mother has committed suicide in the sea. Etto feels lost as he tries to go on with his life--his aloof father, the butcher, always seems disappointed in him; he...more
I read Brigid Pasulka's first novel earlier this year and immediately put "The Sun and Other Stars" on hold at the library. I really enjoyed the voice of the narrator (hilarious and profound) and the Italian-profanity-laced voices of the residents of the village. I really appreciated her restraint in slowly unspooling the twin tragedies in the narrator's life.

In short: this book did what a novel should do well. It took me to a place I knew little about and made me care about Italian
Michele Bové
The author crafts memorable characters that stick with you long after you've finished the book.
Christa  Seeley
This review originally posted at More Than Just Magic

Full disclosure – I am not a soccer fan. I played it as a young child like everyone else in my hometown but after a certain age I’d say about 80% of us quit (what can I say we’re Canadian). It just wasn’t a thing. Now that I’m older and not athletic in anyway I’ve grown even further apart from soccer. I don’t get into World Cup, I couldn’t tell you the rules and if you put a ball in front of me my attempts to kick it would be laughable.

Why am...more
I won this book as part of the Good reads giveaway.

Etto lives in a small Italian resort village. His brother dies young and shortly afterwards his mother in her grief commits suicide, leaving Etto with his father, a lot of guilt and no direction, other than to follow his father's trade and live out his life such that it is, in the village.

However that all changes one summer when a calcio hero and his family rent a villa in town.....

"When I was a kid, I remember thinking that the universe was com...more
I received this book as an Advanced Reader's Copy through Goodreads' First Reads.

The Sun and Other Stars centers on the sullen musings of Etto, a 22-year old living in a resort-town way past its heyday on the coast of Italy. He lives with his living father, who has two jobs: running the local butcher shop and ignoring his son, and the ghosts of his coulda-shoulda-woulda-been-soccer-superstar brother and their dearly missed American mother.

Inhabiting the seaside village is a healthy supporting...more
Jennifer D
i seem to be having a real run of 'just okay' books. this novel was fine but it wasn't, for me, a wonderful novel. this is too bad. i was really hoping a bit of an escapist story set in san benedetto, italy would be a perfect antidote to my string of 'meh' reads. there were parts of the novel i enjoyed - the setting and the characters that populated the town were great. the tie-in to dante was interesting. but i found the book to be, perhaps, better suited for my 16yo niece.

lately, too, i have...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
CoffeeBook Chick
For my full review, click here:

Without even knowing it when I accepted it, I realized within a few chapters of Brigid Pasulka's The Sun and Other Stars that this was the book I'd been waiting to read for a long time. A coming-of-age story set in Italy, mixed with the peculiarities and blessings of a small town, I was swept away with its love and grief. What a lovely story.

Etto, the butcher's son in a tiny seaside resort town on the Italian Riviera, is los...more
Disclaimers: 1. I won an ARC of The Sun and Other Stars on Goodreads First Reads. (This will not affect the nature of my review.) 2. This review is cross-posted on my blog. 3. 3.5 stars would be a more accurate rating.

Etto has grown up in a small town on the Italian Riviera that is a bit like a magnificent and dysfunctional family. Everyone knows everyone’s business, everyone is just a little bit weird, but they look after their own. However, after the death of his brother and his mother’s suici...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 60 61 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Pigs Can't Swim: A Memoir
  • North of Boston
  • The Secret of Raven Point
  • The Swan Gondola
  • The First True Lie
  • Carthage
  • The Book of Jonah
  • The Free
  • Be Safe I Love You
  • The Sixth
  • Last Night at the Blue Angel: A Novel
  • A Replacement Life
  • The Opposite of Maybe
  • Our Picnics in the Sun
  • The Last Days of California
  • All the Broken Things
  • Lydia's Party
  • The Liberty Flower
Brigid Pasulka is the author of A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True, which won the 2010 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award and was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection. Pasulka currently lives in Chicago with her husband and runs the writing center at a public high school. Visit her website at
More about Brigid Pasulka...
A Long, Long Time Ago and Essentially True The Sun and Other Stars: A Novel

Share This Book