Leave If You Can was originally written in German -''Geh fort wenn du kannst''- by author Luise Rinser and translated into English by Margaret Stevens. Ms. Rinser tells the story of Angelina and of her spiritual awakening after the devastation of Italy in World War Two. We learn about the courageous young woman's struggles as her friend Giulia writes a letter to Angelina's father.
Angelina and Giulia have been best friends since childhood and their religious beliefs are about to be affected by the terrors of the war. These two idealistic women embrace communism and leave home without a plan, but with big hopes of protecting the defenseless and fighting the oppressors. On their journey, they find a brave young boy named Tommaso who got lost while secretly trying to follow his older brothers, who have set off to Rome. After hearing Tomasso's story and seeing his courage, the three travel together to look for his brothers.
Upon arrival at Rome, sensing that he can trust Angelina and Giulia, Tomasso leads them to a trattoria, a secret meeting place for the Partisans, a well-organized underground communist resistance group fighting the Fascist regime. They are unable to find Tomasso's brothers, but are introduced to Antonio, one of the Partisan group leaders stationed near the trattoria. The three of them become active members of his group, L'Altalena. During one of the Partisans heated fights against German troops near Santa Maria del Monte, Angelina is separated from her group and thought to be missing in action. Giulia's intuition helps her find Angelina and their reunion marks the beginning of their spiritual awakening and transformation.
Angelina is strong-willed and determined. These attributes make her a great leader and a trustworthy companion. Giulia is a loyal friend who unquestioningly follows Angelina. Together they suffer, laugh, cry, and strengthen each other in times of despair. This co-dependence makes them stronger and prepares them for a greater cause by enabling them to find peace under the most unexpected circumstances.
“Leave If You Can'' is not your ordinary love-and-war story with villains, heroines, family feuds, and romance. It is the remarkable story of Angelina, who was first blinded by fanaticism and shaken by the injustices and atrocities of the War. After suffering and losing so much during her political and spiritual struggles, Angelina discovers that the fight for justice and human rights is found at a higher level with God as the Supreme Commander.
I highly recommend this book to readers who enjoy war stories entwined with religion and politics while remaining faithful to history.