cover image The Family

The Family

Naomi Krupitsky. Putnam, $27 (368p) ISBN 978-0-525-54199-8

In this nicely written but slow-moving debut, two fierce heroines, daughters of mobsters, come of age in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn, in the 1930s and ’40s. First-generation Sicilian American Sofia Colicchio grows up learning that “Family is everything.” It’s a bitter pill. When her best friend Antonia Russo’s father, Carlo, is caught skimming the books and “disappeared,” Antonia becomes even more dependent on the “Family” that killed her father, as it provides for her and her mother. As the power of Sofia’s father, Joey, grows, so does Sofia’s attraction to seizing power of her own, though there’s no place for women in the organization, while Antonia tries to distance herself from the Family. Krupitsky follows Sofia and Antonia from early childhood through marriage and motherhood as each fight to carve out their independence and sense of self, and Antonia faces months of postpartum depression. Their experiences are shaped by WWII and a country where immigrants like Joey absorb such messages as “stay with your own kind; take the jobs we do not want,” forcing them to carve out their own version of an “American dream” that must be “gleaned, bought or stolen.” While a violent showdown at the end involving Sofia and Antonia feels jarring, Krupitsky beautifully captures their day-to-day lives under never-ending tension. The women’s rich stories make this worthwhile. Agent: Dana Murphy, Book Group. (Nov.)