Reviewed by Randy B. Lichtman for Readers' Favorite
As I read Sicilian Family Adventures by Celia A. Milano, it made me feel like an adopted member of her family as she shared very personal and exciting stories during her journeys in Italy and her discovery of the history of her family. That’s how she made me feel as a reader, like “one of the family.” This is not a travelogue but a description of three adventures Celia had when she was researching her family history. Along with the beautiful pictures of Italy and the people and places she encountered, is a description of what she was feeling and thinking at every part of her trip. The tone and humor reminded me of Helene Hanff’s narratives in one of my favorite books, 84 Charing Cross Road, only this is not a collection of letters but a narrative of her observations.
This book is divided into three parts. The first part seems to be written as a gift to her family of her original trip back in 1997 to Italy to find out about her great-grandparents. We get to know some of her relatives and her close feelings about them. We not only hear about them, we see family pictures of them which I enjoyed as a “family reader”. In the second part, Celia continues to try to find some closure in regards to her family history, also learning about people from the first part who sadly passed. When Part II closes, we think we are done—wrong! Celia not only wants to complete her family history, but she also asks the mayor of a city to allow her to photograph the gravestones of people who had lived in the city—and he agrees. The third part is a diary with pictures describing her project and her encounters with people and her family. In part three, do not read it without having eaten first—each entry seems to describe a wonderful special treat that she was given and meals which she enjoyed; unfair if you have not eaten yet and pictures also often share those delicious meals.
Her enthusiasm, commitment to her project, sense of humor, excellent writing, pictures of sites and family, and the continuity through the three parts make this a wonderfully enjoyable book to read. I felt honored to have gotten to know so many wonderful people through Celia’s eyes, and frankly, it made me want to visit Italy someday—maybe I can meet my “adopted family”. If you also want to become a member of the family, or at least have an enjoyable time traveling through Italy and its wonders and get to know a great family, I highly recommend Sicilian Family Adventures by Celia A. Milano for a literary treat! It's meraviglioso (Wonderful)!