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Falling Through the Earth: A Memoir Hardcover – February 21, 2006

57 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews Review

Another casualty of the Vietnam War, Danielle Trussoni has told her story in Falling Through the Earth with bravado, pride, sadness, and candor. Her father, Daniel, served as a tunnel rat, one of the incredibly brave men who went into the webs of tunnels and rooms searching for Vietnamese guerillas hiding out underground. The heat and stench, the courage combined with fear, the claustrophobic confinement, and the incessant tension are recounted with an immediacy that only one who has been there, or knows someone who has, could tell. In fact, Danielle Trussoni went to Vietnam and was guided through the tunnels, trying to follow, literally, in her father's footsteps.

The Trussoni family of Onalaska, Wisconsin, is famous for bar fights and not much else. Daniel is a thug like his brothers, all of whom pride themselves on being tough guys who might just be mobbed up, although there is no proof of that.

Trussoni Thanksgivings were like boxing matches. There was sure to be a rumble on the front lawn of my grandparents' house and a rematch at the tavern down the street... A little blood before dinner was what aperitifs were to other families.

In this atmosphere, Danielle, her sister Kelly, and her brother Matt are trying to raise themselves, or just stay out of the way. After getting a job and some sense of self, Mom takes on a boyfriend and asks Dad to leave. According to Danielle, Dad is pretty broken up about the departure, so she goes to live with him and is treated to a steady round of women callers. The other two children stay with their Mom. Most evenings, Daniel takes Danielle to Roscoe's, the neighborhood tavern, where she sits and watches him get drunk and tell his Vietnam stories. Over and over again. Every so often, he forgets her and she has to make her own way home.

Danielle is endlessly forgiving of this case-hardened vet who is relentlessly mean, paranoid and petty. He is a prototype of the guy who came home and didn't know why he was a survivor. Trussoni has captured the essence of being in bloody battle one day and home the next, and then trying to make sense of it all.

Alternating chapters tell of her father's time in Vietnam, her own journey there, and their messy lives--starting with the divorce and continuing until her adulthood. Family secrets are revealed; Danielle realizes that her mother was not the only person at fault in the breakup of the marriage and that her defense of her father was not always appropriate.

She is finally able to say, after writing him a letter outlining her grievances, "I wanted you to know I was hurt by the way I grew up. ...I wanted you to know how hard I've tried to get through to you, how much work it has been for me." There has never been a daughter more loyal than Danielle Trussoni. --Valerie Ryan

From Publishers Weekly

Trussoni's memoir tells many potentially interesting stories: of her father's traumatic experiences as a Vietnam tunnel rat; of her own smalltown Wisconsin childhood in the 1980s with a volatile dad; of her flirtations with delinquency; and of her family history of implied criminal links (involving "the Italian mafia, drug smuggling, and a Chicago pizza joint"). As Trussoni's sister suggests, these are all stories of unconventional lives worthy of "an episode on Jerry Springer." Alas, the book Trussoni has produced, while well-crafted, as befits an Iowa Writers' Workshop alum and award winner, is deadly dull. Told in fashionably nonlinear style, these juxtaposed tales become a hodge-podge shoving the reader about, from hanging out at Roscoe's bar with Trussoni's father, to purchasing a notebook, to getting a bad haircut. Her brother gets hit by a car, her sister gets pregnant after a one-night stand, her father gets cancer. Off and on, a war souvenir skull surfaces, as does a stalker, adding mystery without eventual clarity. In this awkward weave of her father's tale with her self-absorbed growing-up memoir, Trussoni sacrifices emphasis and dilutes empathy. (Mar. 6)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; First Edition edition (February 21, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805077324
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805077322
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (57 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,000,421 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Danielle Trussoni was raised in La Crosse, Wisconsin and wanted to be a writer since she was six. She is the author of the Angelology series, a New York Times bestselling series published in over 32 countries, with the second installation, Angelopolis, now out in paperback. Her memoir, Falling Through the Earth, was selected as one of the Ten Best Books of 2006 by The New York Times Book Review. She is currently living in New York City. You can follow her on twitter @daniellemybella and visit her website here:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

39 of 39 people found the following review helpful By book.of.the.moment on February 27, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I'm not going to go into a lot of detail regarding the plot of this book, because others before me have done that for you. What I'm here to do is clarify. One person wrote in their review that they're upset that the author is "so into herself" and the book wasn't about war. Um, go back to school and learn the meaning of the word "memoir" before you go buying another book and trashing it unjustly. The book IS a memoir. It's the author's perception of her own life. Of COURSE she focuses the book on herself. That's the point. The book is not "chick lit masquerading as a commentation on war" or whatever it was that reviewer called it. It's the story of a girl's life, growing up with a Vietnam Vet for a father. It never promised to be about war specifically.

My opinion? It's beautiful. It's raw and honest and makes the reader compelled to keep reading. I didn't find the narrator unlikable at all. On the contrary, I found her vulnerable and sincere. I think that Danielle Trussoni did a wonderful job with this book, and I'm sorry that others felt the need to post their uninformed reviews.

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72 of 80 people found the following review helpful By Patrick M. Trussoni on March 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I have read several of the reviews both good and bad shown here; I have also followed some of the critical reviews in the various press encapcilations. Some make me laugh at their lack of real relevance to what a memoir is meant to be in literal construction. Others seem to "hit the nail on the head" as we say in Wisconsin,(both critical and in praise). Still others; like the person who stated they were "so mad they simply could not finish it and they want their money back." Too that person, whats your address? I think I will send you a check for clinical evaluation along with the refund; get a grip for Gods sake, or maybe cut back on the number of cups of coffee you drink.

Like all others I purchased the book from like anyone else. No, she didn't send me a autographed copy embellished with lots of little niceties.

I can assure any reader that the memoir is based entirely on fact! Sadly true, my brother, who had been his younger siblings closest mentor and confidant prior to his departure for Viet Nam, returned nothing like that person I loved.Poetic licenses, perhaps in some cases; I was not kept from the army becuase I was gay, but becuase My "Mom" convinced me to join the Seminary (at 17 years old) in concern for the four sons already in Viet Nam. A situation she managed to correct, incidently, through the lobby of her childhood friend who had become a Congessman.

While most of my family (her Fathers brothers and sisters)find the book "un-kind" and disturbing; frankly, I find it "mild" in comparison to what she could have added into the "Memoir" but did not for our sakes. I thank her for that but I won't be nearly so protective in my book (which I have been writing for nine years).
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30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Late NIght Reviews on February 19, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Danielle Trussoni's beautifully written memoir tells what it was like growing up with a father haunted by the ghosts of the Vietnam war. When she was twelve years old and her parents got divorced, the author moved in with her father across town, while her brother and sister stayed behind. Suffering from post-traumatic stress, her father was barely able to take care of himself, let alone a 12 year old daughter. He spends most of his free time at the local bar, his daughter seated on the stool beside him, telling her about his war exploits, occasionally engaging in brawls.

Part of the strength of this book is its gorgeous prose. Of the women that her father brought home from the bar, the author writes: "They were a special breed, the kind with fire in their eyes and silver caps on their teeth. None were beautiful or solvent."

Whether a particular war is just or unjust, the aftereffects are the same: the experience of battle does not go away quickly. This memoir, beautifully written, honestly rendered, shows how war reverberates through the families of the survivors: the failed marriages, scarred children, misdirected lives.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By W. H. McDonald Jr. on September 14, 2006
Format: Hardcover
There are some books that you want to read for pure joy of entertainment but this is not one of those--this is a book that you will be compelled to read and unable to put down until you have read that last page and are totally emotionally exhausted! "Falling Through The Earth" by Danielle Trussoni is a heavy and deeply moving tale of her life living and surviving with her dysfunctional family and PTSD father.

There is so much hurting and wasted relationship opportunities as you read this unfolding tale of Danielle's life. You emotionally want to reach out and give her a big rescuing hug and pull her out of the depths of her outer and inner environment. This is not a happy tale with any kind of "Leave it to Beaver" or "The Brady Bunch" ending. This is real life and unfortunately, it is a story that is not so isolated or rare. PTSD destroys more families then anyone might dare to count.

Danielle comes across first and foremast as a survivor. But like her own father who survived Vietnam, that is not enough spiritually or emotionally. She sees things that a small child should not and is dragged through bars and her parents divorce and though childhood. She loves her father and desperately seeks that in return. However, her dad is not capable of showing those kinds of emotions any more and she is left hungry for attention and hugs and love. She does the rebellion routine that some teenage girls go though with drinking, drugs, shop lifting, sex and wild friends. Though out all that she endures she still loves her father and still keeps reaching out to find his empty arms and hollowed out heart.

She decides to take a life altering trip to Vietnam and visit the places her dad was stationed. She also makes it a point to visit and go into the tunnels at Chu Chi.
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