If You Eat, You Never Die. (Tony Romano) 12/23/2008
If You Eat, You Never Die by Tony Romano is a wonderful collection of stories about an Italian-American family, The Cummings (Comingo) growing up in Chicago during the 1950’s. The perspectives of each chapter alternates between the different characters, but is usually told through one of the brothers, Giacomo and Michael. Occasionally there is a chapter told by their mother, father, wives and children. These chapters I enjoyed the best. The women in the family are strong willed, if not over bearing, but full of heart and good intentions. Romano examines different types of relationships through the Comingo family line. The writing is playful, sarcastic and the dialog is very realistic. Romano stays true to history as the children age throughout the chapters.
The stories trace the lives of the brothers as the grow up from young children, to full grown adults. The stories are heartfelt, with morals to each story. From the simple stories of Michael refusing to eat dinner so that he won’t gain weight for his wrestling team, to Giacomo seeing a good friend of his do something disturbing just for a motor bike. The stories are very real, and I found myself get teary eyed through many of the chapters. For immigrant families, I think this collection is a good choice because many of the emotions that parents and kids feel are all the same. The parents try to cling to tradition while the children try to grow up “American.” The struggles and past lives of parents that children usually never know about.
This a quick read full of insights into life and relationships. I recommend it for the Holidays, just when you start to get sick of your relatives. Its a good way to realize that everyone has a story to tell.
FINAL GRADE: AIf You Eat, You Never Die by Tony Romano Harper Perennial 2008 ISBN 0060857943 272 pages