In You (“Vos”), a woman is struck by two life-altering news at the same time: the terminal diagnosis of her father and her pregnancy. Written in second person and based on the author’s diaries, “You” is addressed to the protagonist’s father in a style that resembles a long overdue reckoning and farewell.
As they go through the arduous process of facing the inevitable, the narrator explores the families´ past that both unites and separates its members. In an acute state of emotional crisis, and with her fathers´ condition worsening, she is trying to come to terms with fate and must decide, whether to keep her child: this second child would have a different father than the first one, one with whom she never planned to start a family which probably would be as disfunctional as the one in which she was born.
The protagonist revisits the memories of her growing up in a migrant family. Each flashback casts a light on the economic rise of her father, who provides legal service on the verge of illegality: each summer, the family cars become more comfortable and the holiday destinations more luxurious, but that doesn’t make the living together more harmonious.
With great emphasis Zito manages to depict the childish perspective on a family shaped by conflict: the always tense relationship between the parents, the indelible memory of the not entirely explicit intra-familial abuse, the stratified roles of each sibling, the power of silence and objects as the thread of shared life. With lucidity and ferocity, Natalia Zito paints the family as a veil, as a blind device that sustains itself. The novel knows how to build up tension, providing a highly captivating lecture and evoking a strong sympathy for the protagonist, in an always clear and precise language.
You revolves around the universal questions: where do we come from? And what are we made of? From there, Zito seeks to expand the limits of the realist story in order to find a form capable of reflecting what happens in the destabilising presence of death.