From this snippet of the synopsis: “ Told from the adult perspective, this is a powerful, true-to-life novel of leaving the past to history and the future to fate—of restoring hope where there was none, and reaching for dreams in an inspiring promise of paradise called Manhattan.” I knew I needed to read this novel.
Brooklyn Story, written by Suzanne Corso, will break the reader’s hearts, and then it will slowly mend it back together. This is a powerfully (and wonderfully) written novel that should be read by all. From the first page to the last, Corso’s words pulled me in and I shivered at its pure and hauntingly real effects.
Samantha Bonti, a Jewish-Italian, fifteen year-old girl from the town of Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, has big dreams of making it to Manhattan. As a talented writer, Bonti’s passion for her gift is showcased throughout Brooklyn Story; however, her terrifying romance with bad boy, Tony, is what takes up most of this novel.
Suzanne Corso wrote this novel from her own personal experience. No other author could have pulled off this level of knowledge and craft without having lived through the terror Samantha Bonti did. From her use of Brooklyn “slang” to her wit and humor, Corso’s novel captures an entire world that readers will sense first hand. As I turned each page, I sat on the edge of my seat, I looked over my shoulder, and I cringed when the character’s actions provoked me.
When Samantha’s best friend, Janice, introducers her to bad-boy Tony, Samantha’s world changes for the worst. She falls instantly in love with this handsome boy and everything about him; however, soon after she begins a relationship with Tony, Sam’s world is no longer hers. As a criminal and up-and-coming mobster, Tony is no good. He lies, he cheats, he steals, he beats, and he kills. Yes, all of the above. Sam is torn between doing what is right and staying with the boy she loves. Tony wines and dines Sam, he lavishes her with expensive gifts; yet he slaps her when she asks about his “business” and she is only allowed to go to school and straight home.
Sam and Tony’s relationship started so fast I could hardly believe it. When she met him it seemed like they were already in an established relationship. I wanted to believe they could get together so fast, but I just couldn’t. A book that is overall remarkable lost some points for this unbelievable part.
In the end, Brooklyn Story is a fantastic read. I recommend it for mid-to-older teens and older. Some aspects of this novel are too gritty for younger readers. Pick up a copy!
To me, some people lived in the real world and others lived Brooklyn. . . .
It’s the summer of 1978, and Samantha Bonti is fifteen years old, half Jewish and half Italian, and hesitantly edging toward pure Brooklyn, even if her dreams of something more are bigger than the neighborhood girls’ teased hair. She lives in Bensonhurst with her mother, Joan, a woman abandoned and scarred in a ruinous marriage, poisoned with cynicism, and shackled by addictions; and with her Grandma Ruth, Samantha’s loudest and most opinionated source of encouragement. As flawed as they are, they are family.
Samantha’s best friend is Janice Caputo, a girl who understands, as well as Samantha does, this close-knit community of ancestors and traditions that stand like roadblocks, this insular overcrowded little world of controlling mobsters who mold their women like Jell-O; and of the wannabes, the charismatic young guys who are willing to engage in anything illegal to get a shot at playing with the big boys. Yet, Samantha has something Janice doesn’t—a desire to become a writer and to escape the destiny that is assumed for all of them in the outer reaches of Bensonhurst. And it’s to be had just across the Brooklyn Bridge.
Then comes Tony Kroon.
Older than Samantha, Tony is a blonde-haired, blue-eyed, half-Sicilian, half-Dutch mobster wannabe. A Bensonhurst Adonis. Taken in by his adoring attention, and empathetic to Tony’s own struggles with identity, Samantha is falling in love, even when she’s warned never to ask imprudent questions of Tony’s life. Even when her family and friends warn her to stay away. Even when Samantha knows she’s too smart to fall this deep . . . but the last thing she wants is the first thing to happen. Unable to resist Tony’s seductive charms, Samantha soon finds herself swallowed up by dangerous circumstances that threaten to jeopardize more than her dreams. Grandma Ruth’s advice: Samantha had better write herself out this story and into a new one, fast.
Told from the adult perspective, this is a powerful, true-to-life novel of leaving the past to history and the future to fate—of restoring hope where there was none, and reaching for dreams in an inspiring promise of paradise called Manhattan.