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I had just finished reading a VERY heavy novel and this one was recommended to me as being very funny so I thought it would be a perfect choice to cheer me up. I mistook "funny" to mean that it was a light story--it's not. It is a story full of sadness and misfortune. However, it is made more palatable by a main character (a little girl named ChiChi) who is such a life force and a spitfire that she frames most things in a wry, if not outright funny, way. She is a real corker!

The writing of this book was very can hear ChiChi's impertinent language and see her wacky behavior. ChiChi believes to her core that SHE ALONE has responsibility for keeping horrible things from happening to her loved ones by praying, by use of The Evil Eye (taught to her by her beloved grandmother) on those who would threaten her family, and by a dizzying array of bizarre rituals she performs during troubled times (hopping on one foot, walking on the outsides of her feet, etc.). Her absolute devotion to her family, but especially her sickly baby brother, Marco, is breath-taking (even though her devotion is so often shown in bizarre and sometimes self-destructive ways).

The writing of the novel and the character of ChiChi were so superior that I was able to continue reading through the constant onslaught of misfortunes experienced by the family (even though I was thinking "SHEESH! Enough already!"). I understand that the "bad stuff" is necessary to show the strength and will of the characters to survive...and how overcoming so much misfortune makes you bond with the characters even more...but I still say this could have been achieved with a little LESS "bad stuff."

Granted, going right from a really heavy book to this one didn't help matters. Maybe if I'd have come from a lighter book to this one, it would have hit me differently. For the record, though, this isn't a weepy book (at least not for me) so that was at least one break I got from the last one! :)
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on July 16, 2003
I found this novel both surprising and enchanting. Giordano weaves a wonderful tale full of odd characters that stick with you long after finishing, especially the main character ChiChi.
Tomato is basically a coming-of-age story that revolves around ChiChi Maggiordino, a girl who has just relocated from Italy to Minnesota. What makes the story read so well is the narration of ChiChi, who tries to get the attention of God by completing bizarre rituals that she creates (walking backward for a mile, closing her eyes and saying "breathe" two thousand times, and so on.)
The only down side to the novel is, as the story progresses, there is a delay in the coming-of-age process. It seems ChiChi never comes of age, or at least takes too long to get there.
Despite that, it is very much a good read and worth picking up.
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on August 5, 2004
This book tells the childhood and adolescent life and times of ChiChi Maggiordino, a girl new to America whose talents and sometimes bizarre behavior are the products of a hard times.

Immigrating from Italy in the hopes of pinning down the American soldier who is her father, ChiChi moves with her mother, grandmother, and sickly brother Marco.

However, life turns out to be far from the American dream. Chichi's mother basically loses it and when she isn't abusive she's neglectful. Life in America is a series of bad-luck for the Maggiordino family, and in the middle of it ChiChi is determined to hold their lives together. She will bargain with God, she will do whatever riuals she must, she will even go so far as to physically harm herself in the hopes of appeasing whatever force she must. She believes that her constant prayers, bargains and rituals saved Marco when he was small and ill, and have the power to keep her family together now.

And in the middle of misery she is determined to create laughter where there is none, embarking on a clowning/miming/dancing career while still young.

Read this engaging and entertaining story and follow ChiChi through her trials, meet the oddball characters that flow in and out of lives of the Maggiordino family, and most of all see the love ChiChi has for her younger brother Marco, whom she loves like a tomato.
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on April 20, 2004
I am flat-out awed by this wonderful book. I love it! I've shared it with others who share my opinion. My boyfriend wouldn't give my copy back to me, my mother read it and ordered copies for her friends. I gave a copy to my boss for his birthday and he (and his wife) loved it. I fell in love with ChiChi and her brother, Marco, and all the characters in the book. Marie Giordano writes with incredible passion and life. I was drawn into every moment. I especially was interested in the dwarves, and ChiChi's relationship to them. Poignant, moving, funny. This book tops my all-time favorite books and I can't wait for the next book in the trilogy. I've never felt so intimately involved with a family on the page before. The voice of ChiChi is hypnotic, mesmerizing.
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on May 1, 2004
really enjoyed this one. was hard to put down.
its a coming of age book via the immigrant experience.
a surprisingly good read!
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on September 29, 2003
This book was an excellent read and is supposed to be the first in a trilogy about the Maggiordano family. The ending left me wanting more and wondering what happens to the main characters - I can't wait for the next two books to come out.
ChiChi experiences a lot of what it's like to grow up as part of an Italian minority in a predominently waspy community and, while I don't think her experiences are typical, a lot of them were dead on regarding culture clashes that are still happening in certain places where Italians are a very small minority.
Brava, Signora Maggiordano!
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VINE VOICEon October 3, 2005
Why doesn't Mamma love me? Maybe if I try hard enough I can make her care. I Love You Like a Tomato is an often bitter, sometimes sweet novel aabout a little girl born of a teenaged mother in war-torn Italy. Others say ChiChi is pazza, crazy, but it's her mother who's the crazy member of this family. There isn't much wrong with ChiChi that her self-absorbed, self-pitying mother couldn't fix if she bothered. This dysfunctional family moves to post-war Minnesota, and Marie Giordano tells the story of ChiChi's desperate quest for love. Engaging and funny despite the sadness of it's theme, Love/Tomato is a little known gem of a book that also illuminates the experience of the Italian immigrant to 1950's America.
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on February 24, 2010
This book was absolutely wonderful. The author wrote exactly how people really feel and think, without regards to how the reader will respond. I feel in love with the reader and cannot wait to read more about ChiChi!! There's another book on the way and I can not wait for it!!
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on September 10, 2006
The character, ChiChi is so loveable. She's an outcast, and unusual, and she feels right at home with you. I loved reading about her going through these situations and growing up. Very well written and fast-paced. A classic for sure.
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on March 8, 2014
Back in 2006 I picked it up by chance and it was serendipity. I never expected to find a story that I enjoyed so much. I do hope that the trilogy will be written. But thanks for the first book which can certainly stand alone.
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