The Tale of Lucia Grandi by Susan Speranza
Pages: 418 (paperback)
Source: TLC Book Tours
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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
First, I have to say that The Tale of Lucia Grandi is very well written and probably one of the best of the year in that regard for me so far this year. Ms. Speranza is able to create a family that is well-respected and appears normal and happy from the outside but is broken in so many ways. She doesn't create a family dealing with addiction or anything obvious like that but rather a family that deals with the normal in an unhealthy way that manages to shape the entire family differently, leaving almost all of them unhappy. I was inspired at how she was able to do this by weaving an interesting life story full of dramatic events that kept me as a reader interested from beginning to end.
Now if you read this and glance at my rating, you might be confused. To be honest, my rating was a different one until the last 75 pages or so when I realized that I didn't quite know the point of the story. It spiraled into a tale that became more sad by the minute and I started to wonder where it could possibly end and what could be the message. While Lucia's parents—especially her mother—really didn't seem to love or understand her, I thought Lucia was quite a handful. As a child it was understandable and, at times, humorous. As an adult, she really began to frustrate me with her bad decision-making and inability to do anything. While her parents were awful to her, I could understand their frustrations and why they thought some of the things they did about her education and some of her decisions. I was right to wonder how it would end because it simply ended (I apologize if that is considered a spoiler).
Overall, a very good read that left me disappointed at the end. I'm assuming that there is sequel to this book and if there isn't going to be one, I'd be even more upset. If a sequel were to follow I would most certainly read it for the wonderful writing and because Lucia's life can only get better. I'm not sure it could get any more depressing.