Tom Mendicino really has me dialed in. This is one of those American-experience family stories that I just love. It starts out with a very ominous prologue but quickly meanders into a coming-of-age journey where you meet brothers Frankie and Michael growing up with a Italian immigrant father, a true Italian godfather, and a long string of stepmothers.
The author is quite the master of settings and subplots. It features the city of Philadelphia and the suburbs which really become emblematic of the old and the new and how the old becomes new again, the cycle of life. A good chunk of the story takes place in 2008 during that endless primary season when Hillary and Obama were duking it out for the Democratic presidential nomination. This may sound a bit boring, but it makes me sorry that I don't live in a battleground state. And for those of you are keeping score, this book does feature a little bit of baseball.
Back to our brothers Frankie and Michael. Frankie is gay, and that plays prominently in the story line, however it's not about him being gay. Michael is the star athlete and scholar, and as an adult, becomes a crime fighter as a deputy district attorney. While each of their story's are interesting, it's their story together that makes the book. At times, the book borders on being a black comedy and there are some very funny parts. But humor is only one component that builds the bond that brothers share. As you are moving along, watching Frankie's and Michael's lives play out, you almost forget about what happens in the prologue. Never fear, it comes back and things get tense and when you see a grown ass man calling his brother Boo because he is stressed out, you know you have something special.