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

4.4 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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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.
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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 
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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 (41 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,361,065 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a first generation Sicilian American woman, I thought the sociological details were very true to my own experiences as a daughter. My folks came from Palermo and Trapani and the historical details seem very authentic to the stories I heard throughout my lifetime.
A good story, but better still if you can relate to the poverty and patriarchal societies some of us derive out of.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I have to say that it offers a rare glimpse into what the Italians (Sicilians) were like, both in their culture and the circumstances regarding their coming to America, specifically the Detroit area in a way that puts you "right into the story". The author's research is commendable and the writing lets you experience the conditions the people faced; especially as it relates to coming over on the ship and what they faced when they got here both from outsiders and their own families. This was my book club's choice for the month, and coincidentally I was researching my own family's Sicilian history. I gained a lot of insight as to why my ancestors behaved the way they did; every family has its stories and this book is fascinating because it is based on truth and details events here in Detroit where I live. I also have cousins that know the author and can verify the relations.
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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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Format: Hardcover
Brrravva Karen Tintori!

I am wide awake at 4 in the morning after needing to stay up to finish reading this book. What a miraculous act of recovery Karen Tintori did for her Aunt's life and story. The author understands Italian history and American history and tells her family story as it relates to peasant culture, the unification of Italy, the dawn of industrialization in the U.S., and the development of the feminist movement. At the heart of this book is the power relationships between men and women, brothers and sisters, and how this changes through the generations.

forever,
Annie

Annie Lanzillotto
author of "L is for Lion: an italian bronx butch freedom memoir" SUNY Press
and "Schistsong" BORDIGHERA Press

www.annielanzillotto.com

L Is for Lion: An Italian Bronx Butch Freedom Memoir (SUNY series in Italian/American Culture)
Schistsong (Via Folios)
Blue Pill
Carry My Coffee (Live)
Eleven Recitations
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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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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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