Bring My Mother's Epic True Story to Life!

LILIA: A Gripping True Story of Love, Sacrifice, and Survival in the Shadow of War

"Memories of war and a stolen childhood still burn in my heart and tear at my soul.
 I was a young girl who was made to endure the unthinkable. During the occupation, German soldiers invaded our village—a known hideout for partisans. No one was safe, as spies acted as partisans by day and informants to the Nazisby night. Unable to trust anyone, we lived in silence so deafening it was torture. The darkest day of my life came when the Nazis took my brother. I felt helpless as the war tore our family apart. His last words to my mother: ‘Mama, if I don't go now, they will kill us all.’ I saw the pain in my mother's eyes. I felt her heart cry words she could never speak. Haunted by death, I prayed: ‘God, let me grow up before I die.’ Like the war, my life was senseless.” – Lilia Ganzini, age 84

Be a part of preserving my mother’s important and never-before-told true story: an epic family saga driven by the power of love in the shadow of war and survival. This story paints a real picture of a beautiful family's bond that will resonate with many people and bring alive the characteristics of a quaint northern Italian village during a poignant period in history.

Love. Resilience. Legacy. These are the lessons my mother taught me in her struggles through poverty and the horrors of World War II. As I write this story, it reads like a novel or scenes from a movie—BUT IT'S ALL REAL LIFE. This coming-of-age book provides a window onto a period of known history but also reveals an eye-opening account into the tragedies of genocide suffered by northern Italy at the hands of war.

My mother lost two brothers in the war, one to the Russian front and one who fell victim to the Nazi regime. Despite the darkness thrust upon my mother’s village during her childhood, she never gave up believing the depth of her love would heal her family from layers of loss and despair.

Stories like this one don’t often make it to the big screen. But it’s so important to preserve the legacy of the lessons gathered by the people who came before us.

In May 2018, I accepted an invitation to the 73rd anniversary of the Flossenbürg Concentration Camp liberation in Germany. Journeying to this remote camp, I paid my respects to my uncle and countless others who faced an unimaginable, unjust fate. I felt my heart tear open, but this sobering experience called upon me to honor his life and my mother's fond memories of him. I left those grounds forever changed. You can read the in-depth story of this experience in my blog post:ürg-concentration-camp 

Over many years, I have listened to my mother revisit the daggers that penetrated her heart so long ago, and I’ve watched as tears pooled before her. Opening the door to a harrowing past was initially a struggle for her but ultimately proved to be cathartic. In reliving her difficult childhood, other memories also surfaced…beautiful memories that had been shrouded by pain but yearned to be remembered.

My mother is brimming with incredible and often devastating stories, and yet she harbors no hatred for those who caused her family so much hardship. She is proof that one can heal through horrific cultural traumas. However, it is essential we keep in mind the legacy of 20th-century wars, which still haunt us today.

This book will probably be the most important endeavor and creative expression in my lifetime. There are many facets of the war people know little to nothing about, so we need to keep telling these stories. In sharing the history of the ones that came before us, we honor them, learn from them, and help to create a world in which their dreams of love and family are kept alive.

My beloved mother is soon to be 84 years old. It is my wish to have this book written, printed, and in her hands so she can read it with pride, know her life had meaning, and understand what an incredible inspiration she is to so many.

The ravages of war never dampened my mother’s faith, and I want to share her message and her extraordinary resilience with the world. I want to showcase transformative power of love — the journey of my mother’s soul.

What Is This Book About?

LILIA is the first book in a three-book series. This captivating saga unveils the true story of how a brave girl's unwavering courage and love for her family help sustain their struggle to survive poverty and the atrocities of World War II. Just as Lilia's prayers seem to remain unanswered, she falls into the arms of love, which ignites hope for her future and changes her destiny forever.

Reader Benefits 

Readers who enjoy historical dramas, historical romance, memoirs, and coming-of-age stories will be drawn to this literary work. This book is a lush, evocative journey in the vein of epic books like The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, Brooklyn by Colm Toibin, Anne Frank – The Diary of a Young Girl by Michael Navakovic, and The Zookeeper’s Wife by Dafina Vitale Ben Bassat.

My book offers a little-known window onto how the tragedies of World War II and the Holocaust affected the lives of many men, women, and children in northern Italy. After Benito Mussolini’s downfall in July 1943, over 15,000 Italians were killed between September 1943 and April 1945—the Nazis spared no one. This war was no longer a war between armies but a genocide waged on civilians. Cultural trauma continues to haunt us today, which is why stories like these matter—so they are never repeated, and history is never forgotten. #neverforget #Lilia #gofundme 

This book is being birthed at the right time, not only for cultural reasons but also in light of our present political climate. On a global scale, people are motivated by fear. We are afraid of our countrymen, fearful of immigration and our neighbors. My mother was a young girl coming of age during a time when the world feared its future. May her struggles propel readers into making peace with their childhood scars, rediscovering their voices, and living heroically and fearlessly. May my family’s story remind people of the very real threat of history repeating. I hope that collectively, through our shared stories, we can author a more peaceful future by taking responsibility for each chapter and creating a world free of hate—a world that is safe for our children.

This book will connect with those who believe in the strength of family and how it shapes our beliefs, attitudes, and ideals. My mother’s story exemplifies how through the power of love, a family united can conquer any obstacle and triumph over hardships. The power of collecting one’s family’s stories and ensuring that the legacy of the family lives on is a gift to the world. May this book be a source of inspiration that moves younger generations to share it with their parents and grandparents. In the process, may it spark important conversation about our untold life experiences, and bring people together across generational and other differences to create understanding and empathy.

Why Do I Need Funding?

Being an artist is both a blessing and a curse. Since childhood, I have been throwing caution to the wind, baring my soul for everything I have ever wanted to give birth to or create. At a young age, I was nicknamed Braveheart for my strength and perseverance; true to this name, I have taken on my most significant challenge yet: writing this book.

The essence, the heart and soul of this great story, must be told. I began my writing journey in 2017. My deadline to complete the manuscript is December 2019.

With your kind contribution, I will launch this heart-centered endeavor out into the world. I have retained an excellent editor/coach to help me hone my craft and shepherd me through this process. My goal is to raise enough funds to help support the editing, printing, and publishing of this first book in the series. 

Funding will help produce the book and get it into the hands of supporters like you.

-       Developmental Edit
-       Copy Edit
-       Proofreading
Book Formatting for Print and Ebook 
Nonfiction Book Proposal Development/Editing

My Thanks For Your Donations

I want to extend a heartfelt thank you and my sincere gratitude and appreciation for your support. If you would like to receive pledge rewards and have your name listed in the acknowledgments section of my book, you will need to contact me by clicking the envelop next to my name on the campaign. Please include your name and email.  


“Linda’s writing is lyrical and film-like. She has something here that translates to gold dust and great storytelling. Her writing style is not flowery, nor overly embellished, but succinct and powerfully evocative. I’m excited to watch her journey as it evolves—one more string to her beautiful bow.” – Cosetta Lustig, President, Lustig Enterprises Inc, Orlando, Florida

“Linda’s writing sweeps the reader into Lilia’s world. These true stories are heart-warming yet heart-breaking. The writing itself is that of a true artist: full of intelligence and feeling. I cannot wait to read more!” – Heidi Anderson Swan, Author of the Bestselling A Night in Jail, Los Angeles, California

“When a writer writes from the heart, connecting with the past and bringing it poignantly into the present, then you have something special. When you find yourself immersed, involved, and intrigued by the true-life story of total strangers, told with a loving, evocative, yet objective perspective, then you’ve been hooked—a beautifully told tale unfolds.” – Russ Kane, Author and Broadcaster, London, United Kingdom


An Excerpt From LILIA

This excerpt is set in 1942, during a time when Italy was on the brink of military disaster and mandatory conscription of men up to 45 years of age was enforced.

• November 11, 1942 •

     “My throat was tight. I could barely breathe. Like watching a storm, I stood in frozen silence, waiting, listening. Seeing my parents collapse into each other's arms, I wanted to run and save them but could do nothing. Since my brothers left for war, I had been choking back my tears trying to be strong, but rage welled up inside me. I wanted to throw something, break something. I was angry at the world, at God. Whose sins were we paying for?”

       “Mail! Mail! Meneguzzi, you have mail!” hollered the village postman as he pulled up to the wooded gate on his bicycle.
       “Berto, bundì! Heavy bag today, I see. Come inside, take a rest. I made a fresh pot of coffee,” said Maria as she welcomed him in.
        “Bundì, Maria! Yes, too heavy,” he laughed. “I have a telegram here from City Hall. Maybe from one of your boys? It seems important.” He looked at her apologetically, as her breathing had audibly quickened. “Maria, I would love to stay, but I’m late on my rounds. Next time. Give my love to Virginio. Mandi!”
       “Ah, yes, right, OK,” Maria replied, distracted by the envelope that had been placed in her hands. She broke free from her dazed state and waved goodbye to the mailman as he rode away. 
       “Yes, yes, next time. Mandi, Berto.” Maria’s trembling fingers fumbled as she ripped open the envelope, hoping to find positive news from one of her sons. The telegram was from the Italian Military Forces. As Maria scanned the message, words seemed to magnify and ink appeared to grow darker, blending letters and bleeding through the paper and onto her skin. The light grew dimmer and dimmer. Maria began to feel weak and unsteady, as if the earth were spinning beneath her feet. Sweat beaded on her brow as she lost her balance and sank into the gate. Looking up at the vacant sky, she watched as the first icy droplet of rain fell and pierced her skin. The telegram slipped from her hands and floated to the ground. 
        As she clenched the gate, she cried out, “Virginio!”
        Lilia heard her mother’s anguished cry from inside the kitchen, and she immediately called out, “Papa!” As she pressed her hands on the window and saw her mother collapse outside, Virginio burst through his bedroom door and scrambled down the stairs. 
        “Papa, something’s wrong with Mama!” 
        “Lilia, stay inside with the boys.” 
        Running in a blind panic to the gate, Virginio exclaimed, “Maria! Maria! What happened? Did you hurt yourself?”
        Trying to catch her breath, Maria leaned up against the gate while still holding onto the bars for balance. She could only give her husband a resigned look, which made him feel even more panicky. A steady, pitying rain began to fall.
       “Maria, tell me!” 
       She pointed to the telegram on the ground. “There, the letter, the letter.”   
       Virginio prepared himself for traumatizing news about one or both of his sons. Taking a deep breath, he reached for the telegram. Battling hope and fear, Virginio closed his eyes for a moment in prayer. “Please God, let them be alive. I'll give you anything; just let them be alive.” 
Smoothing the wet hair from his eyes, he allowed the words to penetrate. As he scanned the telegram, a few direful lines glared at him, while the rest receded from view.
Virginio Meneguzzi. In accordance with the National Service Act, you are called upon for service in the Royal Italian Army and are required to present yourself on Wednesday, November 11, 1942, between 9 a.m. and 12 noon, or as soon as possible thereafter on that day, to Istria.
He blinked hard in disbelief. The words gripped his head like a vice. He stopped reading. The light and love drained from his face, and anger took over like a raging fire. Feeling his soul shift in and out of his body, Virginio dropped to his knees, pulling Maria into his arms. She buried herself into his chest in silent agony. 
        Lilia watched from the kitchen window, witnessing her parents’ silent dissolution. Her own heart felt cold, and the pit in her stomach grew. She knew what was happening without their having to say a word. Her world was crumbling. One by one, her family was being ripped from her life.

Join Me On My Writing Journey

I invite you to visit my website to learn more about this captivating true story. And sign up for my monthly newsletter for excerpts and updates throughout the writing and publication process: 

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Linda Ganzini 
Hermosa Beach, CA
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