cover image ON THE RUN: A Mafia Childhood

ON THE RUN: A Mafia Childhood

Rebecca Kai Dotlich, . . Warner, $24.95 (245pp) ISBN 978-0-446-52770-5

Fans of mob turncoat Henry Hill based on Nicholas Pileggi's Wiseguy (an account of Hill's life) and the popular film adaptation Goodfellas will be forced to dramatically re-evaluate him after reading this gripping memoir by his children—who were only a passing blip in those earlier versions. Their warts-and-all portrayal of the immense disruption to their lives caused by their father's criminal recidivism is often heartbreaking. At a young age, they were exposed to family friends like Jimmy "the Gent" Burke, whom they knew as Uncle Jimmy, unaware he was a brutal truck hijacker. When investigators on the 1980 multimillion-dollar Lufthansa heist obtained Hill's cooperation as a witness, the children were given an hour to pick through their possessions to select what they could take with them into their new life in the witness protection program. Gregg and Gina often give overlapping perspectives of the same events, as they struggle to adjust, without the benefit of any guidance, and to craft plausible backstories for their new classmates and neighbors. Gregg's story is especially moving as he traces his personal evolution from model student to an adolescent forced to protect his mother from his father. The grimness is leavened with humor, and the many readers who will be rooting for these innocent victims will be heartened by their capacity to transcend a truly awful upbringing. B&w photos. Agent, Joel Gotler at AMG Renaissance. (Sept. 21)