Ok, this is book review and recommendation numero two for this week.

I absolutely devoured this book:

Again, my cousin’s fiancee Jen recommended this book. I shall forever more read what she recommends because she is two for two.

The book starts in Scilla, Calabria, Italy in 1890, and it tells the story of Giovanna Costa Pontill Siena (how’s that for a mouthful?). Giovanna immigrates to the United States in the early 1900s, and the story captures her love and loss, her career, her family, and ultimately her terrifying experience with the early American Mafiosi.

When the Black Hand, the Italian neighborhood mafia and terrorists, entered the story I could not put the book down- yes, the Black Hand was a real organization that thrived in New York from 1880-1920. The extortion that early immigrants faced at the hands of exiled Italian criminals was unjust and left little option except compliance. But Giovanna resisted… and then suffered because of her resistance.

What makes this story so compelling is that it is based on the author’s real family history. It is a novel, but the characters, main events, and story line are all true. Unbelievable at times, but true.

My Great-Grandpa Montella immigrated to the US from Southern Italy around the same time as Giovanna. I couldn’t help but wonder what his experience was like. And I desperately wish that someone would have captured his story as eloquently as Laurie Fabiano did for her family. What a treat for all of us to catch a unique glimpse into our country over a hundred years ago.

I own the book, so if you want to borrow it- let me know. I highly recommend Elizabeth Street. Even if you are not an avid reader, you will thoroughly enjoy this story. I promise.

Next on my book list is Unbroken. This book comes highly recommended from my friend Liz. I can’t wait to get started on it.

I’m always open to a good recommendation, so keep them coming!