From the very start of Carmela Cattuti’s Between the Cracks, I was absorbed. The magical realism, or spiritualism, at the beginning of the book to the immediate horrors of the Mt. Etna 1908 earthquake in Sicily had me riveted! Protagonist Angela lost her entire family in the quake, except her brother who died in the hospital shortly after, creating an immediate connection for me to the biographical character.
Knowing this was the true story of the author’s great-aunt was both phenomenal and terrifying to me, because these factual historical stories are sometimes as harrowing as any fiction. They also many times become novels that grow great hope and show perseverance and Between the Cracks created such an inspiring story and leaves a lasting legacy of Angela, not only for her family, but for every reader. If you like such historical stories, I would not delay in reading this book this year.
Not only is the story well-written, with great content, flow, and editing, but it shows us in elegant and engaging prose the progression of Angela’s life from the convent, to a marriage to someone she barely knew, to her immigration to 1920s New York City. It was like having a bird’s eye view, or a reporter’s keen eye, which isn’t surprising as the author has been a journalist and has taught journaling. The book reads like it is Angela’s own journal we are peeking inside. Cattuti is also an artist and I can see how she visually chose words and created wonderful details in order for us be able to view the story in its brilliance.
The book shines in that is showcases how certain events change our lives. For some they make decisions based on grief and tragedy that never lead them out of despair, while others choose paths of peace and determination, taking risks that may completely turn their life in new directions. The journey for the latter isn’t always easy and takes great mental strength, but generally their lives end with contentment and happiness. The stories of many immigrants in the early 1900s, whether Sicilian like Angela or otherwise, are riddled with blind dreams and decisions in order to make a better life. What we find from these immigrants years later are some amazing stories of their past, before living in the United States, that they rarely speak on! However, when they do we can find ourselves mesmerized. I know I love to read true historical fiction of immigrants and I’d say that this book is one of the best I’ve come across. I was excited to read that this book will be a series.
Between the Cracks is a superb novel of love, hope, fear, and reinvention of a Sicilian immigrant woman who was strong enough to take chances in order to better her life. It was amazing to see her navigate a bustling NYC and all the many cultural differences. I highly recommend this novel if you like books that speak the stories of American immigrants and gives a a glimpse into their family history.
Between the Cracks, Synopsis~
Join Angela Lanza as she experiences the tumultuous world of early 20th century Sicily and New York. Orphaned by the earthquake and powerful eruption of Mr. Etna in 1908, Angela is raised in the strict confines of an Italian convent. Through various twists of fate, she is married to a young Italian man whom she barely knows, then together with her spouse, immigrates to the U.S. This novel is an invitation to accompany the young Angela as she confronts the ephemeral nature of life on this planet and navigates the wide cultural gaps between pre-World War II Italy and the booming prosperity of dynamic young America. Join Angela Lanza as she traverses the tumultuous landscape of Sicily and New York.
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Author Carmela Cattuti, Biography~
Carmela Cattuti started her writing career as a journalist for the Somerville News in Boston, MA. After she finished her graduate work in English Literature from Boston College she began to write creatively and taught a journal writing course at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education As fate would have it, she felt compelled to write her great aunt’s story. “Between the Cracks” has gone through several incarnations and will now become a trilogy. This is the first installment. To connect with Carmela email her firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment at betweenthecracksnovel.blogspot.com.
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I was given a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion, which I’ve given.