Sciatu Mio by Frank J. Pennisi

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My grandmother Santa would whisper to me “Sciatu mio, you are the reason why I breathe. Based on the life of Frank J. Pennisi’s own father, Giuseppe, Sciatu Mio is the sequel to his debut, The Prince of Sackett Street, Sciatu Mio is a rich and multi-layered romantic novel spanning three generations of the Parisi family, from 1850-1985, featuring Michael from Red Hook, Brooklyn, his father Giuseppe, and his great grandfather, Barone Salvatore from Sicily. Historical events are interwoven with stories of the horrific treatment of the Carusi children for control of the sulfur mines in Floristella and the brutal Mafia wars for control of the New York docks. Gripping, tense, and at times ironic and humorous, this page turner will keep readers riveted as they wonder if Salvatore, Giuseppe, and Michael find their sciatu mio despite the tangled webs of deceit and treachery. Sciatu mio means “my breath” and is the ultimate expression of love. Not everyone in life is lucky to find their one true love but if they do they have found their sciatu mio. Growing up, my father would tell me stories about how our family in Sicily came from nobility, and that they lived in castles. That was hard to imagine since my father and I lived in a three-room cold water flat with a bathroom in the hallway. When I was 17 my father died and I was on my own. Thirty years later my wife, Carolyn and I found ourselves in beautiful Taormina, Sicily and decided to look into the family roots. I wasn't sure this was such a good idea recalling the characters out of Red Hook. We drove to Piazza Pennisi south of town. The piazza was surrounded by stately palm trees and a magnificent 200 year old Arab Norman castle in the midst of an enchanting tropical giardini. As we drove up to the gates I couldn't help but think of my father and the stories he once told - maybe they weren't all myths. The name printed under the bell was Orazio Pennisi. A fragile voice came over the speaker, "Che sai?" I answered "Sono Francesco Pennisi di Stati Uniti volglio trovare me famiglia." And so began the incredible story of how I found my family. They introduced themselves as Orazio and Lina Pennisi di Floristella. They were very cordial and asked us to stay for dinner, which we did. We exchanged addresses and telephone numbers, but we never established bloodline. It was Christmas morning in Myrtle Beach and the memories of Sicily were 2 months behind us when the phone rang. It was Orazio and Lina wishing us Buon Natale. He asked us to come back to Sicily and stay with them because the family wanted to get to know us. We arrived in Catania in April and Etna was covered with snow. Orazio assigned us our room and said "you can come and go as you wish, here are the keys." When we were alone, I turned to Carolyn and said "can you imagine, from a kid in Red Hook living in a ghetto and now I have the keys to the castle?" We had a fabulous time meeting family members, eating at family functions and just learning about this wonderful noble family. My heart belonged to Orazio and at 85 he was the oldest of the family and out of respect everyone called him the Barone. He and Lina never had children and it seemed they had adopted us. The day we had to leave was a sad day for me. We felt like family even thoguh we never established bloodline. I kissed Orazio as we got ready to leave and said "I'm so proud of this family, the history and accomplishment." Orazio looked at me and said, "you are proud of us? You started with nothing and on your own you have become a Signore and we are proud of you." As I tried to hold back tears I attempted to give back the keys, but he pushed my hands aside and said, "these keys are yours for when you come back again." I could no longer hold back the tears. I did not have to search for my family in Sicily, I found Orazio. When we say goodbye, I tell him "ti abbraccio" and we tell him "ti amo" and he tells us "I love you very much."

About Frank J. Pennisi

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Born in 1942 in Red Hook Brooklyn, Frank J. Pennisi is the only child of Sicilian Immigrants. He grew up among the stories of Sicilians and was touched by their plight to overcome the prejudices toward Sicilians in America. He graduated from Long Island University with a B.A. in history in 1964 and started teaching in Bedford Styvesant, Brooklyn. Promoted to dean after his second year, he drove a taxicab to earn money to pay for a master's degree in education. His last year he was coordinator of crisis intervention for Special Education on Staten Island. He now lives in Myrtle Beach, SC.
Published June 15, 2011 by CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. 437 pages
Genres: History, Romance, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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The book follows the lives of one family: Michael Parisi, a Sicilian-American boy growing up in Red Hook, Brooklyn;

Jul 25 2012 | Read Full Review of Sciatu Mio

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