Beneath a Scarlet Sky

Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark Sullivan is based on a true story about a forgotten here, Pino Lella, during World War II.

The book begins with Pino at the age of 17 living in Nazi-occupied Germany, and he wants absolutely nothing to do with the war. But as he approaches his 18th birthday, his parents send him off to a catholic camp in the Alps where he soon finds himself part of an underground railroad to help Jewish people escape over the mountains in to Switzerland. As if avoiding Nazi detection was not enough of a challenge, he navigates being snowed in to a cabin and having to dig his way out, and being terrorized by local gangs trying to take advantage of people fleeing Italy.

When his 18th birthday arrives, his parents in an attempt to protect him force him to enlist as a German soldier. The logic is hopefully that it will keep him out of combat as opposed to be in the Italian army that is being used as cannon fodder. Shortly after he enlists, Pino becomes a driver for, General Hans Leyers, one of Hitlers right hand people, and has to witness various atrocities being committed by him. He soon becomes a spy for the Allies and reports on Leyer’s activities and the book takes off at this point about his thrilling and scary life as a spy.

Woven throughout the book though is Pino’s story about falling in love at this time, and the hope that young love brings. There’s a line in the book where Pino remembers his girlfriend talking about living in the moment: “Pino remembered her telling him that she didn’t believe much in the future, that she tried to live in the moment, looking for reasons to be grateful, trying to create her own happiness and grace, and to use them as a means to a good life in the present and not a goal to be achieved some other day.”

No matter the challenges we face, from the minor ones to the extreme like Pino, there are positives and hope. I highly suggest giving this book a read. I’m thankful I did.

Posted by Ryan’s wife Karen on his behalf.

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