3 out of 4 stars
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Sicilian Boy is a marvelous tale about Giuseppe Antonio Ficarra, a young boy close to leaving the only home he has always known for an unfamiliar world. Though he knew he could live in Sicily forever, Antonio has always yearned to learn about the world. He will dearly miss the annual ritual of tasting the first bunch of grapes during the harvest season. He will lose his role of being the family chief egg collector. Fortunately or unfortunately, life in America sounds equally fascinating. However, the decision to journey to New York will be influenced by his grandfather’s choice. Is he willing to leave his ancestral land behind?
This is a captivating story about the routine interactions among family members through the eyes of a young boy. Antonio perfectly shows that being an eight-year-old is taxing. He is regularly torn between acting like an adult and being the kid he is. I appreciate the fact that Charles L. Foti, the author, revealed Antonio’s fantasies, demonstrating their importance to every child. Additionally, the author described his fears so vividly that one feels the helplessness most children have to grapple with constantly. For instance, Antonio fears that he might sleepwalk while on the ship and fall into the ocean.
You can feel Antonio’s immense happiness resulting from skipping school, even for a single day. The importance of family was accorded utmost priority. One is reminded of this rare, invaluable gift and the fact that no one knows how long the whole of it will continue to exist intact. The sadness that results when one member is snatched away by death is made palpable through the eyes of a young child. It makes them reflect on the kind of loneliness they might face if they outlive the older members. Most children will find this relatable. Personally, the author made me travel down memory lane, reminding me of similar joys and fears.
History has always been one of my favorite subjects. I enjoyed learning about the living conditions in the early twentieth century. The author sufficiently captures the simplicity of life back then without neglecting the unique challenges faced during this period, especially the cholera outbreak. Equally, the historical aspect of the book reminded me about one of the milestones in the history of humanity, which is the education of the girl child. Some parents had begun breaking the longstanding tradition and were now sending their daughters to school in Sicily. More importantly, immigrant families could educate all their children in America because greater strides had been made.
The book offers a glimpse of life in the early twentieth century, especially for Sicilians. You encounter the innocent, shameless audacity demonstrated only by children. For them, the world exists in black and white. Luckily, Antonio’s family got a treat of a lifetime because of his outspokenness. While I had doubts concerning the ‘thunderbolt’ that struck Antonio, it did not warrant deducting a single star. You have to read the book to know more about the thunderbolt. Be that as it may, I rate the book three out of four stars due to the errors I encountered. I heartily recommend it to all fans of other fiction books. It will appeal most to readers who want to view life and immigration through the eyes of an eight-year-old boy.
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