I just finished one of the best books I’ve read in a long time! It was over 400 pages and I read it in a jiffy! It kept my attention the entire way through 🙂
The story starts off in that gorgeous part of Italy right below the Swiss border, high in the mountains, and ends up on the East Coast of the USA. This story takes place in the early 1900’s when so many Italians immigrated to the United States to make a living for their families. It chronicles the story of Enza, a beautiful and kind girl and Ciro, a strong boy raised in a convent, from their early days in Italy to their new lives in America. It’s a poignant and warm story that is told with such description that you feel like you are living her heartaches as well as her joys. What I really enjoyed about this book was that the story was REAL (and I don’t mean it was non-fiction but that the story depicted real life and not some sensationalized story!) It was about the ups and the downs of a normally led life. It was a happy story and, actually a breath of fresh air because, like so many other novels that only embellish the bad things, this one was about a life gone well. By working hard, these people succeeded in creating a good life for themselves and their families. It spoke of togetherness and a strong sense of family. They all worked together for the good of the whole. This is what it was all about during these times. Sure, life was tough, but people appreciated what they had and if they wanted more, they worked for it! They sacrificed the material things, but never the love they felt for each other.
This story hit home with me because my family were also immigrants and from this part of the Italy. My grandfather originally immigrated to the USA back in 1916 and settled on the East Coast. He fought during WWI for the Americans and was probably granted citizenship. For reasons unknown, he went back to Italy and married. Meanwhile his brother came out to San Francisco and permanently settled here (thus setting up a connection which would become useful in the future!) When my father was 4 months old, in 1926, the family decided to immigrate once more to America. They sailed out and settled in New Hampshire for 4 years.
My grandfather was a foreman for a granite yard there. They had another child (the only one born in the USA). But, alas, my grandmother did not like it here, so once again, they went back to Italy. The family remained in Italy except for my uncle and eventually my father. Since my uncle was born here, he got drafted during the Korean War and was sent to Alaska. From there, he went to San Francisco because of the uncle connection. And then, when my dad decided he wanted to immigrate as well, he had the connections of his brother and his uncle here in SF. And that is how I came to be! I wish that I knew so many more details of my grandparents and their immigration and lives in America, but sadly I don’t have much. These stories always fascinate me and the author of this book, Adriana Trigiani, was lucky because she had lots of facts about her family’s immigration to the USA and used it as a basis for this great story.