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Reviews

“Amazing book. Not a mystery, yet I could not put it down.”

 

G.C. – AuthorHouse

 

After reading Orazi’s L’America, I found myself reflecting on what it must have been like for those passengers in steerage on the Santa Ana more than 100 years ago. A fetid swamp in a dour situation compounded by fear and depression. What it must have been like to go through the inhumane and chaotic “processing” at Ellis Island. And I can only imagine the fear of the unknown, the hopelessness. The stress of arriving in a strange land wondering where their next meal would come from, whether or not they would find family or friends in this unknown land that held many possibilities, but no solid promises. They say survival is the strongest instinct, but how many of us have been pushed to such limits? Although these three families were fictional, their stories only make me wonder what reality must have been like. It’s the essence of writing historical fiction – make the reader think.
Tackling historical fiction takes much more than strong writing skills and perseverance; it requires tireless research to mine the available material to obtain and present the facts of the specific era (check); it requires a deep passion for the subject matter (check); and lastly; a combination of imagination and creative writing to craft the story with believable (and unforgettable) characters (check). Orazi achieves high marks on all three. I understand the book took ten years to complete. I’m guessing research took the bulk of those ten years. Then, there was the character building (the three families), and their back stories. This is where I believe the author’s passion for the subject matter was inspirational in pushing him through the dreaded “writer’s block” days. <end of speculation>
I was captivated by Orazi’s ability to seamlessly control the narrative of the plight of the three families while keeping the story flowing. Just when I started wondering what happened to Paolo, the next section break brought me back on track to his on-going escapades. And Giuseppe and his son Franco: my favorite line in the book was when Franco was having second thoughts about their journey to L’America after only one day at sea: “Before he was resurrected, our Lord had to suffer.” Giuseppe said. “We can do this much for those we love.” Brilliant.
In school, History teachers spend maybe one or two days “teaching” the class about how people immigrated to America and left us wondering about the many hardships they endured. But I remember that few details were provided on what that experience must have really been like. In the classic The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck put us right in the moment with his sad tale of the Joad family during the Great Depression. And the horrific true story of cannibalism the Donner party had to resort to, as a wagon train of pioneers snowbound in the Sierra Nevada in the 1840’s. But it was Daniel James Brown’s historical fiction novel, The Indifferent Stars Above, that provided a realistic glimpse of the level of desperation and will to survive those poor people had to endure. I rank L’America with these books in that I now have a better understanding – and appreciation – for the plight of the Italian immigrants.
Orazi has brought perspective and earned respect to the plight of his ancestors in L’America. It’s a story of family love and devotion. A story of mere survival. A story of sadness, determination, heartbreak, and pride. A story that needed to be told.
It’s a story I enjoyed immensely. lo consiglio vivamente. I highly recommend it.

 

Bill H.