Donna di Sciacca

A Sicilian Love Story... Bound by Brooklyn Rules.

Non-Fiction - Historical
228 Pages
Reviewed on 05/08/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite

Donna di Sciacca by Janet Sierzant follows the saga of one family and focuses on the life of Jeanette. The reader is immediately introduced to the Italian family of Giuseppe and Anna. The characteristic traits of the children are captured and accompany them as they evolve into adults: Mariella is shy and timid, Phyllis is cynical but tough, Luciana is thoughtful, and Jeanette stands out as the headstrong one. She displays the Sicilian nature, outgoing and adventurous. But things start getting rocky when Jeanette falls in love with her cousin. It is acceptable back in Sicily, but in Brooklyn, it is taboo, and hence begins the conflict that propels the story into an interesting drama.

Donna di Sciacca is a wonderful story that explores family themes, romance, culture shock, and one woman’s quest for fulfillment in love. The author writes the character of the female protagonist in an intelligent manner, allowing readers to see how her character influences her choices. Forbidden by cultural values to be with the man she loves, she engages in a relationship that suffers from the very beginning. The death of her mother ushers in a new phase in her life - can she now pursue her own dreams? Janet Sierzant is a great storyteller and she captures images of the setting beautifully in the story. The cultural conflict is powerfully depicted and it is interesting for readers who enjoy stories with strong cultural commentaries and elaborately developed characters. It is a gorgeous treat for fans of historical romance with strong female characters.

Deborah Lloyd

Jeanette Corrao loved her extended Italian family, and all of them lived in Brooklyn, New York. Her father, Guiseppe, immigrated from Sciacca, Sicily, at the age of seventeen. Her mother, Anna, who was born in Manhattan, maintained strong family ties. Jeanette had three older sisters, each with her own unique personality. Jeanette was the most strong-willed, forging her own life path. The large family had many wonderful family dinners and spent much time with aunts and uncles, and cousins. Jeanette and her cousin Sonny were strongly attracted to each other. Although marrying first cousins was acceptable in Sicily, it was not in the US. In the non-fiction, historical book, Donna di Sciacca, written by Janet Sierzant, the author tells the fascinating story of her mother’s life.

From a historical perspective, there is a great deal of captivating information. Life for immigrants in Brooklyn during the 1930s and 1940s is depicted. From the fish markets and bakeries to working in Manhattan to day trips to Coney Island to the Catholic Church, an authentic picture is portrayed. In the same way, when Guiseppe and Jeanette finally traveled to his hometown, the depiction of this area is beautiful. Guiseppe’s love for his homeland, and the family he left behind, is a poignant reminder of the immigrant’s life. The story of Jeanette, as she navigated both the American and Italian cultures, and her love relationships, is certainly intriguing. Author Janet Sierzant has skillfully crafted a lovely historical account in Donna di Sciacca. It is a compelling historical read.

Edith Wairimu

Donna di Sciacca by Janet Sierzant is a compelling story that chronicles the life of Jeanette, an Italian woman whose story begins in Brooklyn. Jeanette grows up in a loving home with her parents and three older sisters. From a young age, her determination and strong-mindedness show. She becomes popular in school and is close to her cousin, Sonny. Their bond grows stronger as the years pass. Unlike in Sicily, however, a relationship between cousins is condemned in America. When Sonny moves on with his life, Jeanette struggles with hers. After her marriage fails, she moves back to Brooklyn to take care of her father, following her mother’s death. Jeanette later fulfills her father’s wish to reconnect with family back in Sciacca, Sicily, and in the process, she falls in love again. But her life is about to take another turn.

The story incorporates Italian culture, highlighting Italian cuisine, family values, history, and much more which gives the narrative its depth. Jeanette’s story is realistic as it takes different turns. With Sonny gone, she feels lost and her marriage does not work out as she had hoped. Despite the losses and challenges, the story is hopeful. The different turns the story takes makes it unpredictable and ultimately results in a suspenseful read. Supporting characters are also well developed. Jeanette’s sisters have distinct personalities and each follows their own path. Other characters are equally engaging. Donna di Sciacca by Janet Sierzant is an amazing book with a captivating plot and whose themes range from family and romance to loss and love.