Sunday, 19 June 2016

In America by Nina Romano - Book Review

In America
Wayfarer Trilogy: Book Three
By:  Nina Romano
Publish Date:  July 19, 2016,
Turner Publishing
Genre:  Historical Fiction
Pages:  325 PDF
Source:  Turner Publishing

Beautiful, headstrong Marcella Scimenti has the affection of a handsome neighborhood boy, the love of her large Italian family, and serious dreams of singing in Hollywood. But the course of true love—nor the journey to finding one’s true self—never did run smooth.

In America follows the story of Marcella, the daughter of the characters at the center of Nina Romano’s continent-spanning Wayfarer Trilogy, as she comes of age in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, in the late 1920s. In the trilogy’s heartwarming conclusion, Marcella must learn to balance new friendships, promising suitors, and life as a modern working girl with the expectations of her tradition-bound family, all against the backdrop of a looming economic depression and a changing world.

Along the way, she unearths a devastating family secret that shakes her to her core and tests the boundaries of her love, loyalty, and faith.
My thanks to Turner Publishing for an ARC the purposes of an unbiased review; In America publishing date is July 19, 2016.

Author Nina Romano’s third book in her Wayfarer Trilogy brings the reader to Brooklyn, New York of the late 1920s. Really, nothing could be more iconic than the Italian experience in New York and here the story of Giacomo (The Secret Language of Women) comes to completion with the story of Marcella, his daughter, coming of age.

Marcella is a wonderfully complex character who has a definite mind of her own and is somewhat pigheaded to boot.  I love that she’s rebellious against her so-Italian family’s designs for her, and she even cuts her long hair just at her 16th birthday to show what’s what. Like all young girls, she’s dreaming of and seeking the one. She also has competing big career dreams that she strives to make a reality.

The first half of the novel leads the reader mostly through everyday occurrences and Marcella’s forays into life though author Nina Romano has a gift for infusing her stories with abundant, rich detail that make this very pleasurable. The gustatory delights are parallel to book 1 of the series and I always came away wanting to plant my own herb garden for cooking and get real busy in the kitchen. I also find the author has so many details to share in fact that I found this occasionally gets to be a bit of a grocery list (sometimes, a little less is more).

Halfway, when things seem to be settling into the predictable, there’s a great and unfathomable twist that brings Giacomo’s earlier days in China to full circle to Marcella and his family in present day. This is a fantastic way to tie in Giacomo’s haunting memories of his earlier life.

The ending eventually wraps up a little too easily and quick. I would have liked to see Marcella make greater strides in her career hopes as her ambition and ability indicate this but these are seemingly halted abruptly with the culmination of her romantic aspirations. Considering the times though, love and romance mostly still trumped career as a priority. Perhaps it still does.

But I am getting some of what I call ‘Anna Karenina syndrome’ here and that is the theme that women in books/movies should not stray from their socially prescribed course or something terrible might happen to them. In the end, Marcella’s decision is probably right for her but I got the feeling that all that early rebelliousness was for naught.

Overall, this coming of age experience is something that speaks to all of us in one way or another and Nina Romano’s lush, detail-infused writing reminds us of the incredible richness of life if we but pay attention. Here’s a tip; the secret to amazing ravioli filling is to add a little nutmeg! I heartily recommend reading In America to everyone. 4.5 Stars!

You will find Nina Romano on the internet at these links: