Title: The Tale of Lucia Grandi (The Early Years) by Susan Speranza
Publisher: Brook House Press
Genre: Fiction, Historical (50s & 60s)
Length: 428 pages
Book Rating: B
Review Copy Obtained from Author
When an old woman is asked to tell the story of her life, she tells is an intense and poignant tale about growing up in and surviving an irrational, warring suburban family during the 1950s and 60s. The narrative is told from Lucia’s perspective as the second child where she and her siblings are caught in the middle of a lifelong war between her mother, Ruth, an overbearing, unhappy homemaker, and her father, Leonard, a manipulative, sometimes violent New York City cop. Lucia is the silent, thoughtful eyewitness to her parents’ constant and sometimes life-threatening battle.
The story is told as a memoir; each chapter describes a particular incident in Lucia’s life which shows the constant struggle between her parents and the perverse effect it has on her and her siblings. From her complicated and unwanted birth, to her witnessing a suicide at age 3, to her stint as a runaway at age 14, the story progresses to the final crisis where as a young woman, she is turned out of her house and banished from her family forever.
This timeless story of one woman’s courageous attempt to come to terms with her past and the troubled family that dominated it is powerfully and poignantly told.
Spanning the first 22 years of Lucia Grandi’s life, Susan Speranza’s The Tale of Lucia Grandi is an intense and emotional novel. Although it is fiction, it is a very realistic story that is quite compelling.
The Tale of Lucia Grandi is, at times, a difficult story to read. Lucia Grandi’s childhood is tragic and she suffers horrific emotional, verbal and sometimes physical abuse from both her parents. Her relationship with her older sister Lynn is sibling rivalry at its worst as Lynn manipulates situations and events in her attempt to become the favorite child. All of this plays out against the backdrop of Lucia’s parents’ unhappy marriage. Their household is a battleground with her parents always on opposite sides of every issue.
There are startling moments of normalcy in Lucia’s childhood. She does have a few close friendships and their days are filled with typical children’s activities. Lucia’s relationship with her grandfather is quite heartwarming and his love for her is unconditional. It is his advice and love that guides her through some of her darkest moments.
But what I liked most about The Tale of Lucia Grandi are the lessons that Lucia learns from the terrible events that occur throughout her young life. She gains strength from adversity and she eventually begins to stand up for herself. The ending of the novel is more of a beginning as Lucia is forced to flee her family home. I am hopeful that Lucia will be able to finally break free of her dysfunctional family and find some much deserved happiness.
The Tale of Lucia Grandi is a well-written novel that is quite gritty and accurately depicts how dysfunction carries from one generation to the next. It is often heartbreaking, but Lucia is a survivor, and I am crossing my fingers that Susan Speranza plans to tell the rest of Lucia’s story in the future.
…I was born in New York City and grew up on Long Island where I had an interesting and creative childhood. Once in college, I studied Psychology and Philosophy, but since “thinking” didn’t translate into earning money or job security, I worked at a variety of different and unrelated jobs both in New York City and on Long Island.
In order to keep me sane through all the craziness of life, I spent my spare time writing. Anything and everything. The culmination of this was a fantasy – The City of Light – which has recently been reissued as an ebook.
I took up the hobby of dog showing and breeding and produced many Pekingese Champions. You can see them over at our Castlerigg Pekingese website.
Somewhere in the middle of my life so far, after a great personal upheaval, I went back to school, became a High School Librarian. I managed to fulfill my childhood dream of living in the country when I finally escaped suburbia and moved to Vermont where I now happily live with my beautiful Pekes.
But I’ve never stopped writing.
My biography (as with my life, I hope) is to be continued…
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