Customer Reviews


45 Reviews
5 star:
 (8)
4 star:
 (12)
3 star:
 (15)
2 star:
 (5)
1 star:
 (5)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A perspective you won't find elsewhere
I've just finished this book and my head is still spinning a bit. It's difficult to sum it up in a neat review, because the writing and the story itself are uneven. There are many moments of gritty honesty and revelations about how love can survive beyond all reason, but there are also pages of repetitiveness and navel-gazing.

In short, Jennifer grows up in a...
Published on February 23, 2010 by Jenna of the Jungle

versus
20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Relatable memoir about The Family vs The "Family"
Jennifer Mascia's memoir of a life spent on the lam with her larcenous parents (one of whom was a mob shooter and a cocaine addict) is surprisingly relatable, even for those of us who haven't had criminals for parents. The writing is not slick or seamless, but conversational in a way that makes the first three-quarters of the book highly engaging.

For me, the...
Published on February 5, 2010 by beckyjean


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A perspective you won't find elsewhere, February 23, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I've just finished this book and my head is still spinning a bit. It's difficult to sum it up in a neat review, because the writing and the story itself are uneven. There are many moments of gritty honesty and revelations about how love can survive beyond all reason, but there are also pages of repetitiveness and navel-gazing.

In short, Jennifer grows up in a volatile household-- it's filled with cursing and screaming and walking out and her dad getting arrested and several episodes of adults smacking and kicking her... and yet there's also love. I would think that most kids growing up in this kind of family would wind up bitter and hateful toward her parents, but she manages the opposite. She's attached to them in ways that go beyond "normal." As she herself realizes toward the end of the book, it felt cult-like. Her parents' crimes, being on the lam, and all the covering up, created this insultated threesome who depended on each other and emotionally unloaded on each other all the time.

For the first half, I admired Jennifer for managing to love her parents so deeply despite their screw-ups, crimes, and even their abandonment (like leaving her with a drug-addicted aunt). By the end, though, I was too bothered by their crimes and no longer understood Jennifer's fierce loyalty and love for them. It was hard to swallow that she judged her mother for staying married to a murderer, while at the same time talking about how much she loves her dad still and wants to hug him when she thinks about him sitting in prison writing letters to find loopholes to get out, or his affair with his wife's sister, or whatever. In other words, if she thinks her mother should have walked away from a murderer, why shouldn't she hold herself to the same standard? What he did was deplorable, and it seems an insult to his victims' families to still talk about him lovingly.

The other thing that bothered me was the incessant crying. On literally every third page or so, the author is describing scenes of weeping. Weeping in public, sobbing in each other's arms, sobbing on the phone... again, at first, this was sort of comical ("emotional Italians!"), but by the end, I felt like it was a strange need to document every moment that ever made her or anyone she knew cry.

Then there's the issue of the ending, which comes abruptly in a "Now I'm going to tie it all together and tell you what I've learned" sort of way, and it doesn't end with a natural conclusion... I hoped that it would have a more promising ending, with Jennifer being married or in a good relationship, or with children of her own, or something else that gives us a sense that she's making good on these thoughts about not repeating the cycle. As it is, it's pretty remarkable that she's as sane as she is... it's impressive that she didn't seem to soak in much of her parents' morals.

All of the book's faults aside, I still really liked it. It was a perspective on life I've never read before, and there were some genuine moments of insight, and some moments of very good writing. Had it gone through stricter editing, this might have been a 5-star book. As it stands, it feels more like a "diamond in the rough" than a fully realized book.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


20 of 21 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Relatable memoir about The Family vs The "Family", February 5, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Jennifer Mascia's memoir of a life spent on the lam with her larcenous parents (one of whom was a mob shooter and a cocaine addict) is surprisingly relatable, even for those of us who haven't had criminals for parents. The writing is not slick or seamless, but conversational in a way that makes the first three-quarters of the book highly engaging.

For me, the book broke down after the death of Mascia's charismatic, mysterious father. The recounting of her mother's illness, decline, and death and of Mascia's research into her father's criminal history seemed less well-written than what had come before, and seemed repetitive and merely personal -- it was less transcendent than the earlier parts of the book that detailed the family's vivid ups and downs.

Even so, the book is worth a read, especially if you're Italian, New York Italian, or interested in mob stuff or psychology.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An entertaining, absorbing read, February 23, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was really looking forward to reading this book, having had a similar childhood myself. While I enjoyed reading it, I must also confess that at times I found it slightly unbelievable that the author seems to remember thoughts, experiences, minute details and entire conversations--many of which are rather mature in nature--from an extremely young age. This took away from the credibility of the story for me, but only a little, as there's every possibility that her memories were augmented by later conversations and experiences.

Having said all that, it's obvious that Ms. Mascia did in fact live this haywire life, as there are certain experiences she describes that only someone who lived it would know about. It's a confusing life for a child, and I recognized so many of the situations and questions (and answers that never quite made sense, but you accepted them anyway... how many years can daddy be "away at college"?) she describes. And it carries into your life as an adult; the jury duty anecdote made me howl with laughter because it mirrored one of my jury duty experiences exactly. Actually I often felt like I was reading parts of my own life story. But while so much of it was funny to me because it was so familiar, it will be enlightening--and often amusing--to readers who are unfamiliar with these situations in real life.

This is an entertaining, absorbing and touching read, and you will be fascinated whether you've lived "the life" or not. But if you have, be prepared for a trip down memory lane that you may or may not welcome, depending on your outlook. I gave it an extra star because I know for a fact just how hard it is to adequately describe growing up this way.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not at all what I thought it would be, March 23, 2010
While this book is interesting, it is not at all what I thought it would be. In fact, I felt like I had been a bit duped by the jacket summary and the cover. I thought that the book was going to have more to do with the author living with a parent/or parents who were criminals. In fact, the author's father did have a criminal past, but it predated the author's birth (although the author does witness her father being arrested - - I will not mention why - - spoiler). The book is largely about the author's strained relationship with her parents and the co-dependent lives that they lead. While the author does give a very detailed description of her experiences living through her parents illnesses, which might be interesting to some people, it is not what I believed the book was going to be about, and I was therefore disappointed. I was not looking for a book about living through toxic child/parent relationships, but if I had been this would have been a much more satisfying read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars i wish she hadn't told her business to strangers!!!!!, April 24, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
this seemingly never ending book is redundant--if boredom and repetition could kill the author would be in the same league as her father. this is the story of a murderous ex-con drug dealer who is himself a philandering drug addict and his wife who met him in prison where she was visiting another boyfriend (classy lady!). The wife is aware her husband is a murderer and low rent dirt bag but she's one too so they become a couple. then they decide that their drug soaked life of crime should include a child so the author is born. in her book, she states over and over and over and over how horrified she is by their crimes but truth is her tone conveys she secretly thinks it's somehow romantic and glamorous. she has aggrandized the two derelicts so much that she tries to portray them as criminals with hearts of gold. people who kill people, sell drugs, steal, use drugs etc., but who are really swell anyway. the author is entitled to love her parents despite their amoral and criminal conduct but her desperate and poorly edited effort to make us love them too and understand her love for them is lame. her parents were just two losers like many others. the fact that they had a child who loves them does not change who they were, what they were or excuse what they did.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars I should have passed, April 28, 2010
By 
Mike Donovan (Middle America) - See all my reviews
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
You know the old expression, "A child only a parent could love?" Welcome to a story of parents that only a child could love. This is a horribly troublesome read with its redundancy and poorly edited style. This family is far from the All-American family - aren't we all? But this family is worthy of Jerry Springer. It's understandable that Jennifer would love her parents and justify so much, but to share it with the world and expect us to accept such tripe? Boring and full of filler, this book was better left unpublished. It was probably good for Jennifer to write, but it should have stayed in the nightstand drawer.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Don't Judge It If You Haven't Lived It, February 24, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
There are over 2 million children (or roughly 2 of every 100) in America with a parent in prison. That means at my child's school you could fill a class with these kids. And yet many think they don't know a single child in that situation. It's easy to tell a child how they should feel or how you think you would feel to discover a parent was a felon. All a child knows is what sort of parent they have. Is he a good dad, is she an attentive mom? Kids don't really care about the things adults know are important. Your mother or father isn't measured in your heart by their worth to society, only their worth to you. Family feelings are complicated things. So all those children, 2 million at any given time, they grow up. And they learn that the lesson of their childhood - keep your mouth shut - applies in the adult world as well. So the silence continues. There are millions of Americans who have grown up in tumultuous homes, under shady circumstances, with secret families, and they keep their mouth shut. Never Tell Our Business To Strangers breaks that silence beautifully.

If you're reading this, you've probably already read Jennifer Mascia's review of her book and I wish you hadn't. This honest examination of her upbringing is enhanced by the pace of it's unfolding. Learning why her father was arrested loses it's impact if known beforehand. Reading about her early days brought me back to so many experiences I had and so many people I've known. Mascia pulls no punches in discussing how it was but she refuses to apologize for the good times. Mascia embraces the truth in all it's ugly glory. Confessing her own sins while examining those of her parents leaves the reader little choice but to accept them. There's no high horse here. Eventually every child grows up and must examine who their parents are as people. Sometimes it's not a pleasant experience. Family secrets almost never turn out the way one hopes they would. Ultimately, we find we can never know all of the story.

Never Tell Our Business To Strangers is an exceptional look at 'the life' and it's effects on the imperfect people who live it. It would probably be a great choice for your book club, but be prepared to find out some of your friends have been keeping their business to themselves as well. "He seemed like such a nice man!" isn't just a cliche, it's often the truth.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars interesting subject matter, mediocre storytelling, March 13, 2010
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
Like other reviewers, I was attracted to this book based on the promo description. However, the book really did not live up to my expectations. It could have been interesting reading about this mob family and learning more about their double lives and dark sides--as well as about their redeeming qualities. However, the author was a bit too whiney for me. It isn't that she hasn't endured her fair share of hardship, or that I don't feel sorry for her that she had so many negative experiences with her family. It's just that, in the end, I did not feel invested in her story. At many points I couldn't relate to her reactions or feelings toward her family. She was sad when I would have been angry, accepting when I would have condemned. I guess I can't fault her for that, but I just felt like this book ended up being more whiney and self-indulgent than interesting. Overall, this was an okay read, but nothing spectacular.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Less of a "mob" family book than I anticipated but quite engrossing anyway., March 21, 2010
By 
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
I was expecting more of a narration about growing up in a family with ties with the mob but this is not the case. This is more like a narration of the discovery of the author's family in a bit by bit fashion that was still very interesting to read about. Her family held many secrets and she was privy to none of them until she began to dig and compare stories with other family members. The secrets she uncovered were both terrible in their content but also opened up to her parts of her family that she had never met who became close to her when she needed them most, during her parents deaths mere years apart.

Yes there is murder, yes there are drugs and yes the mob was involved but Mascia tells a story that is almost more interesting than the common mob themes we've all read or seen before. The greatest deception her family ever played was on thier own child to try and give her the chance to grow beyond what they were. Her drive to uncover these secrets put her love for them to the test numerous times as each half truth revealed yet another and another.

Since the book covers a large period of time and LOTS of characters I would have like to see a short who's who and timeline section the reader could refer to in order to keep things straight. The author did ramble at times but it reminded me more of a "stream of consciousness" style of writing than poor form. She was trying to get the reader to see how things unfolded for her and real life is not neat and organzied and ready to put in book form.

In short this title is all about the relationship between a mother, father and daughter in rather unique situations. This trio and their love-hate relationships are what was compelling to read about even though I was expecting a more crime-drama type tale. I'd classify this as a coming of age story with unusual twists and turns that are made all the more interesting because of their factual nature.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Never tell our business to strangers: a review of a memoir, May 11, 2010
By 
L. Jonsson (Charleston, SC United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (REAL NAME)   
Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
"Never tell our business to strangers" is a memoir of a family with secrets. Jennifer Mascia grows up in a family that she thinks is normal. Jennifer Mascia is currently a reporter with the New York Times. This is a book that emerged from a piece in the New York Times called "Modern Love"by the author. Mascia recalls her early life in a family she sees as normal. But to the reader and eventually to her things are not as they seem.

Many secrets are revealed. An unknown age difference. An affair. Hidden family members. Name changes. Covered ties to the Mafia. The family was on the run from the law due to a "side career."

Questions are asked and incomplete and incorrect answers are given. When stability finally happens to this family, it is too late, and underlying issues emerge that destroy the family.

Mascia's account is interesting, but at 380 pages seems a little long. Mascia spends too much time in describing her childhood and adolescence and things that are occuring to her-but her Mother and Father are the ones the reader is interested in. Mascia herself seems boring-perhaps that is because she is a normal, law abiding citizen. Conversations are described as verbatim could not have been remembered by the younger Mascia. The pictures in the book though add necessary human warmth to the story. The "Prologue" at the beginning of the book seems overly long and completely unnecessary in relation to the story.

Overall, I would recommend instead the far superior memoirs "A glass castle" and "Her last death" as intense portraits of dysfunctional families.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 25 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Never Tell Our Business to Strangers: A Memoir (Playaway Adult Nonfiction)
Never Tell Our Business to Strangers: A Memoir (Playaway Adult Nonfiction) by Jennifer Mascia (Misc. Supplies - July 31, 2010)
$64.99 $58.49
In Stock
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.