Karen’s Pick of the Week: The Family by Naomi Krupitsky

The mention of Mafia often brings to people’s minds memories of The Godfather or The Sopranos.  In fact, Naomi Krupitsky the author of The Family: a Novel claims both of these sources, plus Origins of the Sicilian Mafia: the Market for Lemons were inspirations for her writing.  This reader picked up Krupitsky’s novel because of the storyline involving the friendship of two daughters growing up within a Mafia family.  This sounded like a unique perspective which would still provide some suspense and action.  The novel did not disappoint.  

 Filled with exceptional prose, the author creates a cast of rich characters that come to life for the reader.  Two apartments in Red Hook Brooklyn share an adjoining wall. The families within each apartment, are quite different and yet inseparable. Joey and Rosa are parents to Sofia, a child that can “feel the pulse of the universe thrumming through her at every moment.” Carlo and Lina are parents to Antonia who “finds that though she is expected to stay in her own body, she often feels like she is in the body of Sofia, or her mamma’s body, or the body of the princess in a story.” The fathers both work for the powerful Tommy Fianzo.  When the girls turn seven a tragedy occurs which threatens to pull everything apart. 

Naomi Krupitsky

The story spans twenty years, 1928 to 1948.  The girls grow up shunned by other girls their own age.  They cling to each other, pull apart a little, but then come back together.  They dream of escape, fall in love, and start their own connected families. The coming and going of World War II during the novel has a strong influence on the plot.  The Family, employed in “importing and exporting” become movers of people who want to escape Europe.  When the war ends, the steady cash flow drops.  The Family also has to contend with the presence of the Jewish mafia. 

This novel is recommended for readers looking for creative prose and strong character development. Be prepared for some violence.  Based upon plot, similar titles would be The Godmothers by Aubray or The Two-Family House by Loigman.

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