WHY? WHY? WHY is this book so popular? I don't understand! It's the story of two poor Italian girls growing up in a small town just after World War II. Both of them are very smart, but have limited opportunities due to their financial circumstances. One is a horrible little girl (Lila) who is a terrible friend, and the other one (Elena) is her doormat and remains her friend (for decades) for some unknown reason. Yes, the book takes a look at class divisions, politics and feminism, but the main theme of "My Brilliant Friend" is friendship, specifically the friendship of Lila and Elena. And since I couldn't figure WHY Elena remained Lila's friend, the book didn't work for me.
Plus, the book is SLOW. Really slow. I had heard that it picked up after 150 pages or so, and it did (a bit), but 150 pages is WAY too long to wait to find a book interesting. If it wasn't for my rule of always finishing a book once I start it, I would have dropped it without hesitation.
Apparently though, I'm a glutton for punishment because I went ahead and started reading the second book in the series because I was told that book two was MUCH better than the first one. But no. I'm half way through and Lina is still a terrible person and Elena is still her doormat. I don't care how good books three and four are supposed to be. I'm done with this series.