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Unto the Daughters: The Legacy of an Honor Killing in a Sicilian-American Family Hardcover – July 24, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; First Edition edition (July 24, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031233463X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312334635
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,536,149 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Tintori's poignant memoir of the recent discovery of her great-aunt's murder deeply underscores her Sicilian culture's troubling subjugation of its women. Tintori (Trapped: The 1909 Cherry Mine Disaster) recounts how in 1993 her aunt and mother reluctantly told her of an obliterated name from her great-grandfather's passport to America. Gradually Tintori discovers the fate of the missing youngest daughter, Francesca, by working backward in time to when the Costa family first made its way to Detroit from Corleone, Sicily, in 1914. The family settled into comfort in Little Sicily: the girls enjoyed scant education and were married off early, while the boys worked at the Ford factory and ran with rum-runner gangs. Although her sister Josie made a successful love match, Francesca pined for the barber's son, but was forcibly engaged at 16 to a scion of the Mafiosi in order to better her family's fortunes. Francesca eloped, to the family's dishonor, and was probably murdered (shackled, dismembered and thrown in the waters of Belle Isle) by her brothers when she dared to return. Because of her family's wall of silence, Tintori finds no sense of catharsis here, only a harrowing tale of sorrow and shame.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"Nearly every family has a skeleton in its closet, an ancestor who "sins" against custom and tradition and pays a double price -- ostracism or worse at the time, and obliteration from the memory of succeeding generations. Few of these transgressors paid a higher price than Frances Costa, who was brutally murdered by her own brothers in a 1919 Sicilian honor killing in Detroit. And fewer yet have had a more tenacious successor than Frances's great-niece, Karen Tintori, who refused to allow the truth to remain forgotten. This is a book for anyone who shares the convinction that all history, in the end, is family history."
-Frank Viviano, author of Blood Washes Blood and Dispatches from the Pacific Century
 
"Switching back and forth between rural Sicily and early 20th century Detroit, Unto the Daughters reads like a nonfiction version of the film Godfather II--if it had been told from the point of view of a female Corleone. In exploring her own family's secret history, Karen Tintori gives voice not just to her victimized aunt but to all Italian-American daughters and wives silenced by the power of omerta. Half gripping true-crime story, half moving family memoir, Unto the Daughters is both fascinating and frightening, packed with telling details and obscure folklore that help bring the suffocating world of a Mafia family to life."
--Eleni N. Gage, author of North of Ithaka 

More About the Author

A best selling author of fiction and nonfiction, I have BA from Wayne State University in Detroit, where I majored in journalism.

Customer Reviews

I could not put this book down; I read it in one day.
Barbara A. Bombaci
Well written,it gives real insight to turn of the century life in Sicily, and the early 1900 immigrant experience in America.
tlynn
The story is true and hard to swallow that these terrible things really happen back in the day.
Sheri Beasley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Joseph Borri on December 10, 2008
Format: Paperback
As an Italian-American from the Detroit area, I read with interest, Unto the Daughters. Karen Tintori has managed to somehow take a dark, hidden piece of her family's history and breathe life into players that have since died. Tintori pulls no punches with the brutality in which women in general were treated in Sicily and early first generation American families. The secretive nature of the Sicilian culture resonates within Unto the Daughters. Hearing it had been compared to Godfather II, I had a difficult time visualizing how that could be, but once I started reading, the comparison is on point, especially the way Tintoi weaves her story between modern day Detroit and the Sicilian town of Corleone. Her great aunt, the heroin, becomes a real, living person, even though only one photo, a shred of the proof (along with a scratched-out passport) that she existed, is all that survived. Tintori's background as a journalist is present throughout, as she effortlessly supplies her descriptive storytelling with facts of Sicilian and early first-generation culture and geography throughout. A powerful, brave work whose pain, setting and tone is all too palpably real.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Alexander on February 13, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Unto the Daughters: The Legacy of an Honor Killing in a Sicilian-American FamilyHi Everyone: For all the Italians and other ethnic backgrounds. Unto the Daughters Is a true story written by Karen Tintori. I enjoyed it very much and couldn't put it down until I was done. It is written with honesty, history, intrigue and traditions of Italians coming to America. A piece of history that is a must to know. Now, I know where all my family traditions come from. It was sad at times and the struggles were horendous. It makes you think never loose site of where you came from. It really makes a difference and forms who you are. Hold on to it from generation to generation. Never let it fade away and let something else replace it. After all the struggles they had and the devotion to ones family. You have to respect the hard work,sacrifices and the tragedy's that where made. Just to have a better life for their children here in America. It would make an excellant movie. Well, done Congratulations Karen Lots of Love: Cathy Alexander(NH)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I'd heard about this book from a genealogy list I belong to. I finally had the opportunity to read it and found it just fascinating. Learning more and more about the Italian / Sicilian culture, I realize the cultural intensity of honor within the family. I'd never really heard about "honor killings" much, but it seems the Italians aren't the only ethnicity to have been affected by this (and in some cases, other cultures still do).

I understand the intensity the author went through in trying to ask questions of the older generation and being shut off. Many people don't want to relive something so tragic, but these stories are a part of our lives and part of the history of our family.

It's an amazing story and one that will truly keep you anticipating the next sentence, next page and next chapter. I commend the author for never giving up and for giving a voice to the aunt she lost so many years ago!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jacquelyn Bell on July 16, 2008
Format: Paperback
I found this book to be fantastic. Not only was it extremely well written, but, it is so incredible to get such insight into a family history. After reading this book, I wanted to dig deep into my family history and see what kind of "secrets" I could find.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Melissa Seligman on July 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
Unto the Daughters was a great read. There was a great sense of understanding this family and how things happened. I was impressed with the great research into the lives of everyone! A Great Book Club book with tons of discussion.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Beth on October 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Karen Tintori begins this book with her great grandparents and great aunts and uncles in Sicily around 1900. Eventually they all move to Detroit, Michigan, which is why I read this book. I live in a Detroit suburb.

I heard this book is about the Sicilian-American "honor killing" of Tintori's great aunt long after they came to Detroit. I wondered how this could have happened here, and that is why, I found, she begins her book with this family in Sicily. I needed to understand the Sicilian attitude toward women then. That had everything to do with why it happened.

And that's what most of the book describes: the plight of Sicilian and Sicilian-American women. While I realize this is to paint a background that leads to the murder, I would have liked less background and more discussion of this "honor killing."

The last quarter of the book describes the hesitancy of the people in Tintori's family to discuss the murder. Everyone gave different versions of the story if they would say anything at all. That surprised me, so I had questions.

Luckily, Tintori is very accessible. I emailed her a list of questions, and she answered every one at length. I learned that, because her relatives resisted talking about the "honor killing," it was impossible to describe it. But I understand now how and why they got away with it.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Maddalena on October 15, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed this book. I have read many books about Italian American odysseys, but this one really took the cake.
I grew up surrounded by adult secrets; angry conversations that stopped when I (a child) entered the room, and the use of the Italian language to keep us kids from understanding what was happening. At last, someone breaks through the wall and through perseverance manages to uncover the entire story. This is a book I could not put down. It is written in a free style, pleasant to read and yet haunting. I recommend this book. Do you like mysteries? you'll like it. Do you like history? you'll like it. Do you like biographical? you'll like it.
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