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In Revere, In Those Days: A Novel Hardcover – September 17, 2002

4.7 out of 5 stars 44 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When 11-year-old Anthony Benedetto's parents die in an airplane crash, he is saved by the loving presence of his extended Italian family in this gracefully written coming-of-age novel. Set in the 1960s and moving from Anthony's parents' death through his experiences at an elite prep school, the novel is structured as a memoir and reads like one: long on nostalgia, short on dramatic conflict or credibility. Anthony's transition from smart but damaged kid to successful student at Exeter is too smooth to be compellingly real. Many scenes are predictable, such as when Anthony loses his virginity to an older, caring woman, but the portraits of his relatives and the Boston suburb of Revere are palpably full of life. Anthony's courtly grandparents are painfully aware of the culture they left behind in Italy; Uncle Peter, a boxer lacking the ferocity to be a champion or mob "muscle," is richly drawn. And Anthony's cousin Rosalie is a troubled and ultimately tragic figure who deserves a book of her own. Merullo (Revere Beach Boulevard) is a talented writer with a fine, lyrical ear, and the book is rife with acute observations and powerful (if familiar) themes: loss, recovery, community. Ultimately, the narrative is limited by the elegiac tone; Merullo is content to bask in the glow of nostalgia instead of stoking his imagination into flame.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From School Library Journal

Adult/High School-This '60s and '70s coming-of-age story centers on Anthony Benedetto, who grew up in Revere, a working-class, Italian-American suburb of Boston with a gritty edge. When Tony is orphaned at 10, his family embraces him in a warmth that sometimes weighs heavy. Raised by his grandparents, with his Uncle Pete always at hand, the boy becomes the dutiful son, a superachiever, and a promising artist. As children, Tony and Rosie, Pete's daughter, are inseparable, but when her mother deserts her family, the girl drifts away from Tony, despite his unfailing devotion. Encouraged by Grandpa Dom, supported by Uncle Pete's big win at the racetrack, and with help from his parish priest, Tony gets a scholarship to Exeter. But Rosie is irresistibly drawn into an affair with a budding mobster, and slides into a world of brutality, drugs, and crime. Anthony's adjustment at school is eased by his close friendship with his roommate, who is from the L.A. inner city, and by his skill at ice hockey, which earns him a place on the varsity team. His affair with an older widow briefly consumes him, but graduation culminates in a celebratory street party in Revere, marred only by Grandpa Dom's recent death and Rosie's deliberate absence. Beautifully written, both as omniscient remembrance and in the first person, with visual imagery and dialogue that bring readers from laughter to a lump in the throat, the author's skillful rendering of time, place, ethnic identity, and dialogue evokes Chaim Potok's work.
Molly Connally, Chantilly Regional Library, VA
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (September 17, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0609610325
  • ISBN-13: 978-0609610329
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (44 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,250,905 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Roland Merullo was born in Boston and raised in the working-class city of Revere, Massachusetts. He had a scholarship to Exeter Academy and graduated in 1971, attended Boston University for two years, transferred to Brown and graduated from Brown in 1975, then earned a Master's there--in Russian Studies-- in 1976. Roland has published twelve novels and seven books of non-fiction, and given talks at hundreds of universities, schools, bookstores, and other venues. He currently lives in Massachusetts with his wife Amanda and their two daughters. He can be reached via his website: RolandMerullo.com. or at Roland@RolandMerullo.com

Merullo has a new novel out: Dinner with Buddha follows the cast of characters from Breakfast with Buddha and Lunch with Buddha as they make another hilarious, spiritually uplifting road trip across the American west. The paperback version will be out in April, 2016.

He's also recently come out with a small book on golf etiquette, The Ten Commandments of Golf Etiquette, which is perfect for those who are new to the game and want to master the complicated dance that is on-course behavior.

Also recently available from PFP is The Return. A thrilling sequel to Revere Beach Boulevard, it follows the lives of a circle of people who are linked by one man's addiction.

His humorous travel memoir, Taking the Kids to Italy, is a light read that tells the story of a disastrous family trip to Italy. Everything that could possibly go wrong, did go wrong, from illness to cold houses, but Merullo shines the light of laughter on all of it and creates a story that will appeal to armchair travelers and to any family that has met with vacation challenges.

PFP has recently reissued The Italian Summer, a memoir of a summer Merullo's family spent at Lake Como. With lush descriptions of meals and portraits of various characters (and various golf adventures) this book belongs on the shelf with Taking the Kids to Italy.

His novel, Vatican Waltz, received starred reviews from Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, and Library Journal and was chosen by Publishers Weekly as one of the five best books of 2013 on the subject of religion. It tells the intriguing story of a young Catholic woman who believes she is being called by God to become a parish priest. Provocative without being irreverent, this book dovetails nicely with the changes being initiated by Pope Francis.

He's also the "as told to" writer of John DiNatale's memoir, The Family Business, which is the story of DiNatale's decades as a Boston private eye. Full of anecdotes both personal and professional, The Family Business provides an inside look into a profession that TV shows always get wrong.

Still available in various formats (including a collector's edition) is Merullo's 2012 novel, Lunch with Buddha, the long-awaited sequel to Breakfast with Buddha. Lunch with Buddha details a road trip from Washington State to North Dakota with the same wonderful characters as its predecessor. In a Starred Review, Kirkus Magazine called it, "a beautifully written and compelling story about a man's search for meaning that earnestly and accessibly tackles some well-trodden but universal questions. A quiet meditation on life, death, darkness and spirituality, sprinkled with humor, tenderness and stunning landscapes." Lunch with Buddha recently went into a fourth printing and will soon be available--like Breakfast and Dinner-- in audio format.

For more details go to LunchwithBuddha.com or Roland Merullo's FaceBook page or website.

His best-selling novel, Breakfast with Buddha, has gone into its 19th printing and has sold over 200,000 copies. Like Golfing with God before it, and American Savior after it, Breakfast with Buddha treats questions of philosophy/spirituality from a multi-denominational viewpoint and with a healthy dose of humor. The novel has become a favorite with book clubs all over the country. It was based on an actual trip Merullo took from New York to North Dakota, most of it in the company of his wife and daughters. Another novel, Golfing with God, has just been re-optioned for film by Gemfilms. And American Savior has also just been optioned for film.

His Alex Award-winning 2011 novel, The Talk-Funny Girl, now out in paperback, is the story of a teenage girl in rural New Hampshire who escapes an abusive home life in a most unusual way. It follows a theme that can be found in almost all Merullo's books: a person overcoming some past trauma, whether that be the stress of war, illness, divorce, addiction, or early abuse.

The Alex Awards are given by the Young Adult Library Services Association to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults, ages 12 through 18.

Several old favorites--Leaving Losapas, A Russian Requiem, Passion for Golf, Revere Beach Boulevard, and Revere Beach Elegy, have just been reissued from AJAR Contemporaries, in print form and as e-books. AJAR has also brought out Roland's small book of writing advice, Demons of the Blank Page. Roland does a bit of private editing and ghostwriting and runs workshops based on this book at libraries and other venues. Watch his FaceBook page for news of these workshops or go to RolandMerullo.com and sign up for his monthly newsletter.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
"Revere Beach, In Those Days" is the beautiful story of young Anthony Benedetto's spiritual journey that confirms his love for his Italian-American family even as he must cut many ties with the place and people of his childhood. It is the kind of rare book that made me want to reread it immediately. It would be a great choice for a book club; there are so many levels to it to be discussed, pondered. Anthony's unforgettable Grandfather has an idea for his grandson that helps him find his way in life. Merullo's idea for America is to rediscover the spiritual realm and to temper its hunger for the material one. How appropriate that Merullo is a Massachusetts writer. His story is told so elegantly that he makes masterful writing feel easy. One can only hope that he will write more books like this one. Encore!
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Format: Paperback
Though I don't particularly love the two professional reviews listed here, I like the phrase "omniscient rememberance" that's used in one of them. That's part of the beauty of this novel: in addition to finely-drawn characters and places, and a lovely cadence to the sentences on the page, the author beautifully presents both the text and the subtext of the story at once, so that you are caught up in the richness of the lives that are presented within.

I loved this book for its nostalgia, for its acute observances of the life around the main character, Anthony, for the questions it brought up around my own family, and for the skilled technique in the writing itself.

A wonderful, wonderful work.
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Format: Hardcover
Maybe it is because I am from Revere, maybe it is because I am an Italian American, maybe it is because I am a sensitive woman, surely it is because Roland Merullo is an exceptional writer!
I felt like I was reading my history, and the history of my family as I was reading this story. The characters are all people I grew up with, the same insecurities, the same hopes and dreams, the same tragedies, and Mr. Merullo captured the heart and soul of life in a small town in America perfectly!
I absolutely love this story, these characters and I am so Proud that I am a Revere person.
I beg you to read this story and not laugh out loud and cry with your soul!
I don't know how to thank Mr. Merullo enough for his insight, his humor; his soul must know my soul and I am forever in his debt.
Debbi :)
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By A Customer on October 5, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Never pay attention to the dust jacket, but on the back of the book, Anita Shreve says "I was moved to tears," and she probably wasn't lying. When Peter takes Anthony to Exeter, when Lydia says goodbye, when Peter sings, it is hard to stop the tears from welling. Although the book is Anthony's coming of age story, it is mostly a portrait of Peter Benedetto, Anthony's tough, ex-boxer uncle. We see him in such intricate detail, from his fractured family life, to his not-quite-successful boxing career, to his life on the fringe, to his own sense of failure even though it is hard to imagine anyone more beloved by his family and community, that it is easy to forget that the story is Anthony's. Watching Anthony grow up in the background, the reader is right to focus on Uncle Peter. Merullo has written a wonderful book.
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By A Customer on December 30, 2003
Format: Paperback
"In Revere, In Those Days" is the best novel I have read in years...sensitive, dreamy, with all the love and rough edges of growing up, and all the hopes and sorrows of adulthood. Merullo just draws you in to the Benedetto family and Revere. The story is told through Anthony's eyes and the family emerges and developes as Anthony matures and understands his clan with more clarity. Despite the troubles that surround his Uncle Peter and his cousin Rosalie the love and care that root the Benedettos are evident. It's a tale of another time, another place, that any baby-boomer will recognize.
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By A Customer on October 2, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a memorable read featuring well developed characters and a finely crafted story. Similar to Nino Ricci's trilogy, Merullo adds a dimension of warmth and humor to his story.
I was thrilled to discover this is not his first work and there are more Merullo works to be enjoyed.
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Format: Paperback
In Revere is the coming of age tale of Anthony Benedetto and his extended Italian-American family, yet it is also the account of the city of Revere, Massachusetts some forty odd years ago.

Merullo intertwines the two into one entity. Benedetto, orphaned at a young age becomes enmeshed with not only his sizable family of uncles, aunts and cousin's but within the atmosphere that defines Revere. In doing so he creates a conflict that Anthony has to comprehend to sort out the person he genuinely is.

The troupe of characters Merullo has tenderly created is difficult to abandon. The uncle with the oversized personality, who speaks with the grace of a bull and not a 'r' in sight! The Italian grandparents are drawn with out and out perfection, gracefully quiet, yet they have skillful unspoken wisdom that Merullo conveys to the reader with charm and lure.
(Yes, I'm from New England and yes, I had Italian grandparents!)

Revere itself will be a place difficult for the reader to leave behind, from the main street called Broadway, (I have many wicked memories of Broadway...especially during the Blizzard of '78!)...to the richly ornate church of St. Anthonys to the fine grains of sand of Revere Beach; all of these are calling cards to the young Anthony's experiences.

This book is a slice of modern, everday history. A well crafted, impeccably researched and laugh aloud story that is highly enjoyable regardless where you are from!
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