This review is written by ISDA Contributing Editor Anthony Traficante.
The book “Elizabeth Street” is a riveting account of the struggles faced by Italian immigrants in America…
The story is set in the 1900s. The pivotal character is Giovanna, the dominant personality of the story. Some of you, who grew up in an Italian immigrant family, may relate to the circumstances of the story. If not, you will soon experience the anguish, sorrow and fear of the immigrants.
Laurie Fabiano wrote the story, not as a personal account, but based on historical factual events passed on by her great-grandmother.
Elizabeth Street begins with a young, love-filled Italian girl Giovanna, living in Sicilia, who, with great anticipation and hope, follows her husband to America seeking the “promised land”. Instead, what she finds is a series of challenges, intrigue and tragedy. The story takes you through life in the crowded, hot, cold, demoralizing tenements of “Elizabeth Street,” in the lower east side of New York City. As the plot expands, it weaves you through an emotional spectrum of love, death, tragedy, discrimination and intimidation. You face the coercion, fear and extortion inflicted on fellow “paesani”, by the “Mano Nera” – the Black Hand (the precursor to the Mafia).
Elizabeth Street is a passionate story written by an empathetic writer. It is sad and heartbreaking, yet there are times of courage, toughness and small victories. There is an interesting array of sub-characters, some good, some evil. You will meet Lt. Petrosino, the cop, Signora Lucrezia, the mid-wife and Lupo the Wolf, the chief Black Hand. These characters give depth and credence to the plight of Italian immigrants and their fight for survival in America. Lest we forget, do not miss the terrifying and tense episode of the kidnapping of a little girl.
The book is a page-turner. Although historical fiction, it does, in actuality, reveal the hardships encountered by the early Italian immigrants to America, who only hoped to find a better existence than what they left behind.
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