by Fiori Picco

Review by Maria Teresa De Donato

“… a tenacious and courageous woman who has seen death several times and who desperately clung to life as many times.” (Flowers Peak, 2020, Prologue, p. 9).

That’s how Giada Rossa describes herself in this autobiographical book created through her stories by the competent and skillful pen of Fiori Picco, Author, Editor, and Sinologist.

The subtitle “A Life for Freedom” could not have been more suitable to lead the reader into her Life’s complex, intricate, and equally dangerous labyrinth. This subtitle helps to understand better the hardships, the ordeals, and the numerous dangers of death that this simple, humble, and similarly determined woman unexpectedly had to face and from which, like the tender sprout that emerges from the road surface, she has always succeeded, in spite the unspeakable suffering, abuse, mistreatment, and violence suffered, to go back from the cliff into which she had been thrown, albeit with deep wounds, visible and invisible.

From an early age, Giada Rossa periodically has premonitory dreams, real nightmares. Every time, punctually, her dream anticipates a dangerous situation that, unbeknownst to her, is maturing and which will soon manifest itself to her. Thus the bird she found and saved, and which at some point will fly away, makes her feel “as if a supernatural presence [had] led [her] to that bird to indicate [her] that, when fully recovered, [she] too one day [would] fly away to new horizons chasing an important dream.” (p.10)

Due to envy, jealousy, and lust for money, evil people that she will meet on her path will try to hinder the realization of her dreams in every way.

A little girl that Life will force to grow up quickly will soon become a woman against whom – it would seem – an adverse Fate wants to befall mercilessly every time she sees a tiny light at the end of the tunnel, and hope resurfaces in her soul.

However, Giada Rossa will not give up despite the dangers, the tragic situations she will be confronted with, and the cruelty of individuals devoid of any moral feeling and ethics. Although with the spirit dejected, the enormous suffering endured, the despair that in some moments seems to take over the fear of not making it, Life, the God of Heavens, Buddha, or whoever is in control of the Whole suddenly and equally unexpectedly paves the way for her, presents her with a way out, an angel on her path. “Every small gesture of altruism is marked on the agenda of a universal god who misses nothing. In due time, he will remember your noble and helpful soul and will cause angels to appear on your path” (p. 247) – this is her great trust, or unshakable faith, which sustains her even in the most terrible moments of her existence and which pushes her never to give up, even when it seems that all is lost.

‘Giada Rossa’ is not only a woman who humbly recognizes her limits but is also the emblem of Love par excellence, starting right from that for Life. In her simplicity, she is well aware of the obstacles inherent in having been deprived of an education that would have allowed her to progress in her Life. Giada Rossa does not lose heart and always tries, at any cost, to survive in the best possible way the situations that human wickedness or Fate throws in front of her from time to time, making her a prisoner or, even more so, a slave.

This woman’s life lessons are endless, starting with Love for one’s family, human empathy, and solidarity for others, especially those in need and suffering. The latter is one of the fundamental principles considered ‘Christian’ even if she is not ‘Christian,’ being of the Buddhist faith. However, Giada Rossa recognizes their universal value: her heart bears witness to these truths and not a written or orally handed down a law that so many ‘religious’ people love to boast about while being careful not to put it into practice.

The full awareness of one’s roots, culture, and dignity as a human being are other aspects that emerge and dominate in this publication. They highlight how, despite being relegated to slavery, used and abused, dignity, conscience, and intellectual independence are factors that can and should be safeguarded at all costs.

Red Jade also embodies all those typical values of native and peasant cultures centered on sacrifice, on being content with little, on solidarity and sharing what one has, and also on Love and the sense of melancholy and nostalgia that one feels when, for one reason or another, we are forced to abandon the places where we were born and raised and where our roots lie, the purest and most authentic essence of who we are.

Red Jade, through the existence and indescribable suffering experienced by its protagonist, is also a reportage, an investigative service on many dynamics: from the difficulty, and often impossibility, of communicating in a foreign country when the only language spoken is our native one, to clandestine immigration which is achieved by walking hundreds of kilometers on foot and facing the stormy sea on makeshift boats; from poverty to slavery, to violence, to forced prostitution, to abuses and even rapes suffered by thousands if not millions of people – women, old people, and children included – who, having nothing to lose, entrust themselves, becoming later their victims, to traffickers of human beings and smugglers often deprived of any value that can still define them as ‘human.’

Red Jade – A Life for Freedom is a novel written with the heart by the author Fiori Picco who has been able to interpret masterfully, through the translation and the clear and authentic narration of the manuscript, the most profound essence not only of the experience of the protagonist but also and above all of those cultural, ethnic and anthropological aspects of a country with a rich and fascinating history that, to date, very few know deeply.  It is a book that encourages deep reflection and awareness of the many tragic realities that millions of people live, who the only thing they ask is that they are offered a second opportunity: that of finally feeling ‘at home’, accepted and safe, and become an active part of the social fabric of the communities that will welcome them.

This is a fascinating book, full of psychological, sociological, anthropological, and cultural aspects whose reading I highly recommend.