As a young boy in Tescano, Italy, Luigi Ferraro was given a bicycle by Jeremy Forsythe, a man passing through the village on the bike but who has an unfortunate meeting with a truck. The bent, broken bike is repaired and rebuilt by the boy and a lifelong love for bicycles begins.
Luigi lives in Tescano with his mother and uncle Cesare, the village blacksmith. With his best and inseparable friend, Leonardo, the boys ride through the countryside every chance they get and become so expert at bikes that when the war comes to the village, they are drafted into the bicycle corp where their job was to repair and keep ready the needed fleet of bicycles. During the war, Luigi, Leonardo and now Jacob, a young Jew they met on the first day of their enlistment, manage to stay together, are adopted into the resistance and Luigi falls in love. But this isn’t a war story, not really. It’s because of the war that decisions are made and people are met and promises made.
This war makes Luigi dream of leaving Italy and seeing the world, his Freedom Ride. He wants to go as far away on the map as he can and sets his sites on riding to Australia.
This is Luigi’s story. We all have one, as simple as our lives seem to be. Luigi would say so of himself. But it is also a story so full of wonderful characters, some who never speak a word, who at first might appear to the reader to be nothing more than props but oh, they all have a role, they are as much a part of the story as Luigi. This IS a story of curiosity, and love and hope and a jet-black Hercules Popular twenty-one inch Gent’s Roadster.
I absolutely loved this story. Loved, loved, loved it.