Dear Fellow Reader,
This week’s book is a first book by an author who has been published in numerous publications. Birds of Passage by Joe Giordano is a picture of Naples and New York City in 1905. As the book opens, Leonardo Robustelli is unable to find a job in Naples and succumbs to the lure of accepting a steamship ticket to America so that he can earn money to bring home to his mother. His mother and father are against the idea but Leonardo has decided that he has to go and seek his fortune. He boards the ship to America and finds that crowded and unsanitary conditions make for a torturous trip. When he reaches American, he learns that there is not easy to find work there either.
At the same time, back in Napes, Carlo Mazzi has found himself in trouble for the murder of the owner of the neighboring farm. To save his son, Salvatore Mazzi, has his brother take Carlos to Palermo where Carlo boards a ship under an assumed name and sails for America. The arrangements on board did not work out as planned and at the end Carlo is threatened with betrayal. He kills the man who would betray him and leaves the boat in New York.
Both men live in the Italian ghetto and their paths cross. Leonardo recognizes Carlo when Carlo is assigned to share the room that Leonardo shares with his friend Giuseppe Fontana. Conflict arises when they fall in love with the same woman. Leonardo finds the living hard in New York and longs to return to his mother in Italy but won’t return until he has made money. In the meantime they must find their way through the corruption of the city that is controlled by the Irish who are not interested in sharing with the Italians. The Italians have their own corrupt ways and are fighting to join the Irish in the control of the city.
This book rapidly catches your attention and keeps it throughout the book. There a many characters and they are used to paint a picture of this time of change in New York. The corruption was overwhelming and scary for those trying to earn a living. The descriptions are well drawn – you can see the filth of the times and almost smell the unsanitary conditions. The book tells the story of the Robustelli and Mazzi families and how they are connected. While the book covers about a year in their lives, it is a year of great change for both families.
This book was a not my usual reading and it was a welcome change. I found myself caught up in the story. There is a lot of violence but I did not find it graphic.
Thanks for reading!