4 out of 4 stars
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It's All Good: Times and Events I'd Never Want to Change is a collection of 27 essays by Charles Sacchetti. The collection begins with Sacchetti's experiences growing up in an Italian-American family during the 50s-60s and spans more recent decades of his life. The entertaining stories are infused with humor and are inspired by the meaningful people in his life. The collection is heartwarming; some of the stories will amuse you while others may bring a tear to your eye.
If you are in the mood for a collection of feel-good stories, look no further. The photographs at the beginning of each chapter enhance the nostalgic vibe of the book. Sacchetti's storytelling skills are reminiscent of the popular series, The Wonder Years or the classic movie, A Christmas Story. For instance, he fondly recalls family traditions, such as Sunday Mass, followed by a delicious pasta dinner and concluding with the men of the family playing cards. Sacchetti describes watching his father, grandfather, and uncles hurl good-natured insults while critiquing the others' skills. While no physical violence or money was involved, he found the post-mealtime ritual every bit as entertaining as watching TV.
The first chapter fittingly chronicled a series of significant firsts for Sacchetti, including his first Phillies game with his father and his first experience on a baseball team. Although the eight-year-old initially spent most of the games as a benchwarmer, he fondly remembered his mother's chat with the coach as the turning point when he was given a chance to play. Incidentally, Sacchetti went on to have a baseball career and even a "stint with the Phillies Organization that was shortened by basic training with the National Guard during the Vietnam War." However, it was his acknowledgment of how his mother's act of love affected his career that tugged at my heartstrings.
In the tenth chapter, Sacchetti told a humorous tale about answering an ad for a $500 1960 Alfa Romeo convertible. Unfortunately, he didn't heed the wise advice of his father; he correctly assumed that there was something wrong with the car given its price and offered him his Fairlane instead. Sacchetti refused the offer and admitted his good judgment was replaced with "..a scene from the classic movie, The Graduate, when Dustin Hoffman races down that California highway in his red convertible, pursuing Katherine Ross to the tune of Simon and Garfunkel's 'Mrs.Robinson'." As a college student, Sacchetti reasoned that perhaps the sporty car was the key to getting a "girl like that." In hindsight, he lost money on the car but learned a valuable life lesson; his friend's mother bought the Fairlane and drove it for an additional five years. To be honest, Sacchetti hooked me with the movie and song references.
I most like the themes of family devotion, faith, and community that are consistently woven through the collection. Sacchetti mentions going to the same barber as a boy and into adulthood, receiving a flawless haircut the day before his wedding. Likely, he would still be retaining "Maestro's" services, but Chris passed away shortly after the wedding. Sadly, the sense of neighborhood community that Sacchetti experienced seems less common now.
I found nothing to dislike or improvements to suggest, and the editing is exceptional. For readers who consider "hell" borderline profanity, I will note that the word is used twice. I rate It's All Good 4 out of 4 stars. Many of the stories will resonate with baby boomers, but the collection may also appeal to younger generations who appreciate stories about nostalgia and family.
It's All Good: Times and Events I'd Never Want to Change
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