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.