Birds of Passage: an Italian Immigrant coming of Age Story by Joe Giordano (Review and Giveaway)
Harvard Square Editions
Published: October 8, 2015
Trade paperback, 274 pages
What turns the gentle mean and the mean brutal? The thirst for wealth? The demand for respect? Vying for a woman? Birds of Passage recalls the Italian immigration experience at the turn of the twentieth-century when New York's streets were paved with violence and disappointment.
Leonardo Robustelli leaves Naples in 1905 to seek his fortune. Carlo Mazzi committed murder and escaped. Azzura Medina is an American of Italian parents. She's ambitious but strictly controlled by her mother. Leonardo and Carlo vie for her affection.
Reviewed by Sandra Olshaski
Naples, 1905. Two young men leave by ship for America, Leonardo to seek his fortune, Carlo to escape justice. Their paths cross as they both pursue the same young woman, Azzura and adapt to life in America, while clinging to the ways of "the old country." As both struggle to adapt to their new lives, they encounter shady characters in the form of corrupt politicians, corrupt police, and scam artists. In a short time they fall into the seedy world of the mob and learn how brutal life can become.
The descriptions of life in steerage class on the ship were so well done that I could feel my stomach churning and heaving. "His memories of the Prinzessin Irene (ship) were seasickness, overflowed toilets, coal ash fumes, and the unwashed stink of his fellow travelers." I could feel the poignancy of the disappointment that many immigrants experienced as they came to realize that the streets of America were not 'paved with gold'. And when push came to shove, how they fell into the clutches of unscrupulous people.
The writing is very good. Mr. Giordano's descriptive abilities are excellent. On the other hand, I didn't find any of the many characters particularly engaging or sympathetic, although I had hopes for Azzura and Leonardo, but somehow the romance didn't seem real. I expected more of Leonardo and I would have preferred a different ending.
Readers who enjoy reading about Italy, early 20th -century New York, the immigrant experience, and the mob in Manhattan's lower east side will find the book absorbing.
To read more reviews, please visit Joe Giordano's page on Italy Book Tours.
The Kindle copy of Birds of Passage will be free to download for five days starting the day after the end of this virtual tour (Saturday, November 7th through Wednesday, November 11th)
Joe Giordano was born in Brooklyn. His father and grandparents immigrated to New York from Naples. Joe and his wife, Jane have lived in Greece, Brazil, Belgium and the Netherlands. They now live in Texas with their shih tzu Sophia. Joe's stories have appeared in more than sixty magazines including Bartleby Snopes, The Newfound Journal, and The Summerset Review.
Connect with the author: Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook
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Disclosure from Sandra: Thanks to Laura Fabiani from Italy Book Tours for sending me this book for review. I was not compensated in any other way, nor told how to rate or review this product.