I love a good mafia mob story; I find them so tense and enthralling. So when I was approached to review The Family, a story of the Italian mafia from a female point of view, I jumped at the chance. I was also really attracted to reading this novel as it is described as a coming of age story of twentieth century Brooklyn. That fascinated me and I was desperate to discover more.
The Family is Naomi Krupitsky’s debut novel and is the story of Sofia and Antonia, best friends from birth, two neighbours, two young girls that know that uncles are not their real uncles, but they are ‘Family anyway’…They know that Family is everything.’ Both from Italian immigrant families, Sofia and Antonia are born into the mafia mob. When the other children at school refuse to eat lunch with them, their mothers tell them; ‘Our families are a little different…Sofia and Antonia don’t know whether that means better or worse, but soon they spend lunch alone.’
Their fathers are also best friends; but when Antonia’s father, who secretly wants his true family to escape the bonds of his mafia Family, suddenly ‘disappears’, Sofia and Antonia’s lives are changed for ever. As they grow from young girls to teenagers, then into women, they themselves change and in their own unique ways push against the boundaries of the complex, patriarchal society that they are born into. But yet, they are still inexplicably tied to the Family.
Spanning twenty years from the late 1920s to 1948, this is a a fascinating story of how the mafia grew. I feel the portrayal of how young immigrant boys and adolescents recently arriving alone in America are groomed into joining the mafia especially fascinating.
Sofia, Antonia and their friendship with all its complexities is at the heart of this coming of age story. However for me I found the story of Sofia’s husband Saul, a German Jewish immigrant who fled to America to escape Nazis persecution truly captivating. I also found it heart breaking and even though Saul is a ‘mobster’, he really evoked my empathy.
Saul’s character driven story is brilliantly threaded through the plot of the The Family, skilfully enhancing it and also dramatically intensifying it. Ultimately the tension builds, impacting on both Sofia and Antonia’s marriages and their complicated friendship already influenced by the deathly politics of being part the ‘Family’. The actions of both these very different women with opposing views of the mafia will test their friendship to the limits. It will also change the ‘Family’ for ever.
I enjoyed The Family, especially all the tension and complex ‘family’ politics. I also really enjoyed the history of the development of the New York mafia, especially in Brooklyn. I found this truly intriguing and I believe people that enjoy The Godfather films and The Sopranos will find it fascinating too.
I also loved the taut drama throughout, especially at the end. However for me the novel ended a tad abruptly; I was ‘Oh, is that it?‘ But then I thought that there has to be a sequel. Sofia and Antonia deserve a sequel. The Family ended at such a dramatic point, changing the mafia for ever. This needs to be explored further. In fact there is so much more to explore. I feel that Naomi Krupitsky has only started to delve into her characters and as a lover of character driven plots, I want more of the ‘Family’. As a reader I will be so excited by that.
Thank you to Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me to the blog tour of The Family which was released in hardback, eBook and audio on 6 January 2022. To follow the blog tour and read the reviews from my fellow book bloggers, please see below.