All I can say after reading this book is “Wow!” With Elizabeth Street, Laurie Fabiano creates a work of historical fiction out of the true story of her Italian immigrant great grandmother, Giovanna, who settled in New York City’s lower east side during the early 20th century. Giovanna’s story is heartbreaking and inspiring at the same time.
During this time period, Italian immigrants were treated poorly by their new country. They were given the worst jobs at the worst pay. They were so poor, tenements were teeming with more people than would be legal to occupy such a small space today. And if this wasn’t bad enough, they were victimized by their own kind – gangs of Italian thugs, called the Black Hand, used extortion and violence to threaten these hard-working people, who were just trying to make a decent life for themselves.
I don’t want to give anything away, but there are so many amazing events that happen in this book – I was mesmerized the entire time. And in addition, Fabiano clearly took the time to research the world her ancestors lived in. It was a wonderful glimpse into the past, and I learned things about both New York and Italy that were new to me. I highly recommend this book!
4 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2009