Author: Carmela Cattuti
Publisher: Three Rivers Press
Type of book: Italy, Sicily, Mount Etna eruption, based on a true story, 1905-1931, war, Mussolini, America, language, daily life, marriage, faith, hope, nunnery
Year it was published: 2013
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 main characters included Angela, a strict,capable and a very nurturing woman who is also talented with making dresses and takes on the task of raising her very young sister-in-law Esperanza and later on Franco. Franco is Angela's husband and Esperanza's older brother who is also capable, hardworking and often has very mixed emotions when it comes to his own homeland. He focuses a lot on work and trusts some family members way too easily. Esperanza takes on the role of a daughter for Angela and she is warm, welcoming and always cheerful and optimistic and never wants for others to worry about her. Without spoilers, there is another character, Salvatore who seems to have something wrong with him and who also lets his own sister run his life for him. To be honest, I'm not quite sure I understood why Angela didn't really like him, at least in beginning of the book?
Ordinary life can be amazing too
The story is written in third person narrative from Angela's and Franco's points of view, although I do think some other characters participated as well. There wasn't warning when it came to point of view switching, but despite that, it didn't take away from my enjoyment of the story, and the passage of time seemed a bit uneven for me; within pages four or five years passed, then another year and time did move very quickly with only major life events making an entrance, up until late 1920s and 1931 when the time slowed down dramatically and the first book was over.
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With an engaging writing style as well as something that reminded me of Nancy Horan's Under the Wide and Starry Sky, I am taken into what seems to be an everyday life of Angela and Franco as well as their struggles and problems that aren't world encompassing, but seem to be everyday sort of problems. I found the story to be both hopeful and heartbreaking and I do wonder what will happen next for Angela and Franco. Personally for me, the author managed to keep the everyday life and situations as well as conversation to be engaging and something where I didn't even notice the book length. I do hope to read the sequel and see how some threads will finally be tied up.
This is for Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours
Between the Cracks Blog Tour Schedule4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)