Friends of the Heart/Amici del Cuore

Published October 2005

A friendship transcends distance and time

Ollie is a great whistler, while Lucrezia can’t whistle at all. Ollie has traveled the world, but Lucrezia is afraid of the dark and hates goodbyes. Yet, despite their differences, Ollie and Lucrezia have been best friends forever. When Ollie is eight, he moves from Rome to Milan, and Lucrezia feels as though her world has ended. But their friendship blooms, against the backdrop of beloved family and beloved places, until their thirteenth summer together, when a change in plans alters Lucrezia’s life forever.

Narrated by Lucrezia, this haunting novel exquisitely captures through vivid language and sense of place both the beauty and enduring nature of human relationships. Set in modern-day Italy, this is a book about journeys to places new and old, toward self-discovery, toward adulthood, and toward things bigger than ourselves.

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Horn Book

Through the openness of the narrative, readers will engage with Lou’s adolescent musings, rendered in such precisely fine prose – and in such a gloriously realized setting.

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

Elegant. A beautifully written piece about a last summer with a beloved friend.


The relationships of a group of vacationing friends and a loving, multigenerational family in Italy are described in both warm sensory waves and with a colder, steady current of psychological analysis.


Banks gives equal attention to the creation of a very real friendship with which many middle grade readers will identify. Will be especially popular with fans of both Katherine Paterson and Cynthia Voigt.


In poetic, evocative language, Banks creates a wholly absorbing story . . . will resonate strongly.