Join Angela Lanza as she experiences the tumultuous world of early 20th century Sicily and New York. Orphaned by the earthquake and powerful eruption of Mt. Etna in 1908, Angela is raised in the strict confines of an Italian convent. Through various twists of fate, she is married to a young Italian man whom she barely knows, then together with her spouse, immigrates to the U.S. This novel is an invitation to accompany the young Angela as she confronts the ephemeral nature of life on this planet and navigates the wide cultural gaps between pre-World War II Italy and the booming prosperity of dynamic young America. Author, artist, and teacher Carmela Cattuti created Between the Cracks as an homage to her great-aunt, who survived the earthquake and eruption of Mt. Etna and bravely left Sicily to start a new life in America.
The 'common' man (or in this case woman) is not usually a subject in literature and movies. We want experiences in entertainment that are thrilling (Red), fantastical (Fantasia) and out of this world (Guardians of the Galaxy). And just for the record, I loved each one of those movies.
Thank goodness Ms. Cattuti has seen fit to buck that trend and show us there is much in the 'ordinary' lie to be celebrated. Between the Cracks is all the more wonderful because it is based on the life of the author's great-aunt. But there's ordinary and then there's ordinary. In the book, Angela is the sole survivor from her immediate family of the earthquake and eruption of the Etna volcano in the early 20th century.
And let's face it. Back in those days, you did not zip across the ocean on the Concorde, or jet to Paris for lunch. People crossed the ocean by boat and it took at least a week. (I know this because apparently my ancestors have been crossing the Atlantic one way or the other for generations.)
Angela is a sympathetic character. She is left alone in the world at a young age, and raised in a convent. When Franco, an American of Sicilian birth, wants a wife, he returns to the old country to find one. And where does one find a virtuous young woman? In a convent. Angela is all the more attractive to Franco because she has no family, and he will not have to worry about her becoming homesick when he brings her to America.
Ms. Cattuti has a fine hand in the choice of her words. Bad things have happened to Angela, but she is not a victim. She shows us that even though our lives may not be played out in the pages and on the covers of checkstand magazines, that each person has a value of their own. I may never have the effect of a Mother Teresa, but I do alright with my own family.
We all live lives capable of falling Between the Cracks, but what we choose to do with our lives can lift us to the extra-ordinary. Wrapping us in the comfort and warmth of a favorite heirloom quilt, Ms. Cattuti's book inspires me to gather more information about my ancestors to add to my family's story.
Carmela Cattuti started her writing career as a journalist for the Somerville News in Boston, MA. After she finished her graduate work in English Literature from Boston College she began to write creatively and taught a journal writing course at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education As fate would have it, she felt compelled to write her great aunt’s story. “Between the Cracks” has gone through several incarnations and will now become a trilogy. This is the first installment. To connect with Carmela email her or leave a comment on her blog.
To enter to win a Kindle Touch eReader (valued at $59) & eBook of Between the Cracks, sponsored by author Carmela Cattuti, please complete the giveaway form below.
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(Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from the author and publishers via HFVBT in exchange for my honest and unbiased opinon.)