Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Boy Who Granted Dreams by Luca Di Fulvio

"At first there were two of them watching her grow up -- the mother and the padrone. One of them watched with dread, the other with a lazy lustfulness. But before she could become a woman, the mother made sure that the padrone wouldn't look at her anymore." Opening Paragraph


New York, 1909: Fifteen-year-old Cetta arrives on a freighter with nothing but her infant son Natale: strikingly blond, dark-eyed, and precocious. They've fled the furthest reaches of southern Italy with the dream of a better life in America. But even in the "Land of the Free," the merciless laws of gangs rule the miserable, poverty-stricken, and crime-filled Lower East Side. Only those with enough strength and conviction survive. As young Natale grows up in the Roaring Twenties, he takes a page from his crippled mother's book and finds he possesses a certain charisma that enables him to charm the dangerous people around him... 

Weaving Natale's unusual life and quest for his one true love against the gritty backdrop of New York's underbelly, Di Fulvio proves yet again that he is a master storyteller as he constructs enticing characters ravaged by circumstance, driven by dreams, and awakened by destiny.

Review by Mirella Patzer

By far, this is one of the best novels about Italian/American life I have ever read. It begins with a young Sicilian girl named Cetta who suffers a rape, despite her mother's attempts to keep the eyes of men from leering at her. With her bastard child, Natale, Cetta sails for America to start a new life, but the cost of her voyage is to endure the sexual advances of the captain. Upon arriving in America, the captain hands her over to a pimp by the name of Sal and Cetta begins work in a brothel. Natale, or Christmas, as he has become known, grows up in the streets of New York, among thieves and gangs. Despite the influence of crime and criminals that surround him, he manages to walk a fine line on the right side of the law. One day, he saves a young girl named Ruth from a brutal rape. She comes from a wealthy Jewish family, and although they are grateful to Christmas for saving her life, they do their best to keep them separated as their love for each other becomes evident. There are numerous other subplots and characters that feed the storyline to make this one of the richest, most engrossing novels I have ever read. I was enthralled from first page to last,

At 630 pages, this is a very long book, and I couldn't have been more happy. This was a book I did not want to put down. It kept me reading long into the night. I never wanted it to end. So its length is a definite plus! The author is very talented. His scenes are highly creative, unique, compelling, and sometimes shocking. His characters are so complex, so well developed, that they definitely seem real! I cannot say enough good things about this awesome, powerful story. I wish I could give it 10 stars. Luca Di Fulvio deserves it! Utterly compelling!

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