Cover Image: The Family

The Family

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Member Reviews

If you've read Elena Ferrante's "My Brilliant Friend", you've pretty much read this. 

Take that book - and put it in Brooklyn New York - and there. 

Thanks to NetGalley and the publishers for the opportunity to read this book.
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𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐰𝐨𝐫𝐥𝐝 𝐢𝐬 𝐮𝐧𝐬𝐭𝐞𝐚𝐝𝐲.

𝐒𝐨𝐟𝐢𝐚 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐀𝐧𝐭𝐨𝐧𝐢𝐚 𝐬𝐮𝐝𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐥𝐲 𝐥𝐨𝐨𝐤 𝐥𝐢𝐤𝐞 𝐭𝐰𝐨 𝐝𝐢𝐟𝐟𝐞𝐫𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐰𝐨𝐦𝐞𝐧, 𝐫𝐚𝐭𝐡𝐞𝐫 𝐭𝐡𝐚𝐧 𝐭𝐰𝐨 𝐢𝐧𝐭𝐞𝐫𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐧𝐠𝐞𝐚𝐛𝐥𝐞 𝐠𝐢𝐫𝐥𝐬.

Sofia and Antonia are more than best friends, close as sisters from the beginning but not interchangeable. Living in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Red Hook, at the order of their fathers boss (in a business you know better than to talk about), the girls live next door to each other, and their families are close as blood relations, spending every possible moment together, knotted in the business. Loyalty to this family ‘is everything’. The girls parents understand how important it is to have a place where you belong, a community. Carlo, Antonia’s father, having arrived in America from Italy in the early 1900’s, with no knowledge of this new world, desperate to be shown the way and ease the hunger in his belly was lucky to find a ‘mentor’. Joey came over on the boat when he was a baby, his parent’s dream of finding roots in America lay heavy on his head. He learned fast how hard life is when you’re different and expected to ‘stick to your own’. Both do what they must for their children’s future, under the rule of Tommy. Sofia is wild as an animal and as free, so much like her important, dangerous father. Burning up with life, hungry to devour the world, she will not be broken. Antonia is the steady one, a good girl who would love nothing more than to feel as alive in her body, as lit up with passion and confidence as Sofia. Alongside her vibrant friend, she is someone else, freer, more real somehow. Antonia has a far better grasp on their world, intuiting the emotions, expressions of the people around her. Even seeing something inside Sofia that alarms her, for reasons she does not quite understand.

One morning, Carlo is gone. Once connected in the world of crime, you never get out. Antonia and her mother Lina are left with the lightning strike of loss. Lina blames ‘The Family’, refuses to be a part of it any longer. Despite the rift, Antonia remains close to Sophia’s growing family, though never feeling as safely ‘cocooned’ as her friend. There is life brewing at Sophia’s, where emptiness reigns supreme in her own home. Despite Lina’s blaming Joey, they still make sure that Lina and Antonia are well cared for. They come of age during the great depression, outsiders from the other children at school, tied as they are to the criminal syndicate. Through proximity and circumstance, they have only each other. Both wish to escape their restricted, narrow world.

High School finally gives Antonia a sort of anonymity she has been dying for. Antonia isn’t looking for a future others have outlined for women. She doesn’t want to end up in her own mother’s desperate circumstances. Yet, no longer enlivened by Sophia’s constant presence, separated in high school as happens, it is so much harder to be seen, to find definition. She turns to studying. Sophia becomes popular, going through boys and friends with an endless appetite. Testing limits, always. Both want to discard the demands being a woman puts on them, in this way they are the same. As they ride the waves on this ‘sea of change’, their friendship is paused but it waxes and wanes through time. They fall in love, infatuations, search for courage or ways to temper desires, through war, marriage, and children. The future they’ve made isn’t as either envisioned it, despite being the ones who made the choices that led them in their current roles. Both women breathe life into each other in surprising ways. How far have they escaped their origins? Why are there so many wounds and how to close them? Is there still a whiff of danger, threatening their happiness?

It is a story of friendship between women and the confines of society. The novel also highlights the price children pay for the choices their parents make. By the end, it is about resilience.

Publication Date: November 2, 2021

Penguin Group

Putnam
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The Family by Naomi Krupitsky  is one of those books that plot along at a nice pace, nothing too extraordinary, until the end when the conclusion hits like a ton of bricks. Well worth the read. 

The daughters of Italian immigrants in 1920s Brooklyn, Antonia and Sofia are the closest of friends, more than sisters. They do not have any other friends because the neighbors know that their families are part of the Family, the mob. This seems like any other job the the girls until Antonia's father is called out for a walk with the boss and does not return.

Antonia is the last person in the world to imagine she would marry a Family man, but she does, as does Sofia. They both want more in their lives and will they find it? Or is it too dangerous?

"The Family" is written with a calm, powerful style, filled with the gravitas the Family men see themselves possessing. It is not a flamboyant book, but one focused on relationships, and a sense of history. There's a satisfying end, until you think about it for a minute and say, "Oh, boy. Now what?"
Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.
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The Family is the story of two girls who became best friends. This seemed inevitable as their fathers were best friends and inevitably, so were their mothers. They were family, but in more ways than one. Their fathers were also part of “The Family” in the organized crime sense of the word. When Antonia’s father wanted out of the family, Sofia’s father chose loyalty to “The Family” over loyalty to his best friend. Antonia’s mother sunk deep into grief leaving Antonia even more dependent on Sofia and her family.

The character of their friendship evolves over time as their very different personalities lead them in diverging directions in high school,  but adulthood and marriage bring them back together each of them helping each other in sometimes harrowing circumstances.



I loved The Family for many reasons. The characters were complex and intriguing. Sofia and Antonia were so different and it could have been so easily about the dominant, vibrant Sofia and the passive, subdue Antonia, but Naomi Krupitsky did not fall into that trap, allowing Antonia to have a different kind of strength. It was interesting to see the machinations of organized crime during the Depression and World War II, adapting their business model to changing circumstances.

Most of all, the language of The Family is entrancing. Krupitsky writes with an elegant formality that makes reading her book like seeing language a new way. There is such a deep understanding of humanity coupled with a fresh way of writing that every page was a joy for anyone who loves the supple and subtle English language.

The Family will be released on November 2nd. I received an e-galley from the publisher through NetGalley.

The Family at Penguin Random House
Naomi Krupitsky author site
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A debut novel with a fresh take on the traditional mob story. The Family tells the story of two best friends and daughters of a mob family in Brooklyn. If you enjoyed the Sopranos, be sure to read this book by Naomi Krupitsky.

Antonia Russo and Sophia Colicchio have very different personalities but are connected by their family since childhood. Raised amidst mandatory Sunday dinners and the secrets behind the family business, the girls grow into women, wives and mothers. They each break the boundaries of the family’s expectations and develop into a role of strong, modern and independent women.

I enjoyed the new twist of a female perspective on this subject and the coming-of-age tale of two friends bonded by more than blood. Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Group for the advanced readers copy.
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This was an incredible novel based on family life in the Italian mafia in Brooklyn. Everyone knows that every family has drama and it takes the strength of the entire family to pull through the most trying times, but these two family dynamics, takes it to a total different level. Loyalties are tested and bonds are broken and I had several jaw-dropping moments because most of it came unexpectedly. Overall, I enjoyed the book and it gave me insight to a lifestyle I truly didn’t know much about. I would agree with other reviews, that this gives off major Godfather vibes!
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Sofia and Antonia are best friends- closer than best friends, as are their parents. But being in 1940's Brooklyn in the Mob is a hard life. This saga is a mob story, centered around these two women and their families in The Family.
Love The Godfather or the Soprano's but wish you knew what the women were thinking? This book is for you. The omniscient narrator tense took a little getting used to, but it also provided a glimpse into people's thoughts and motivations. I loved the family members' friendships and loyalties and their silent desperations. I really, really liked this book (and had just watched the new Soprano's prequel movie The Many Saints of Newark so I was thirsty for some more mob stories.) I loved the time span, hearing about the family's origins, and how the gangster life affected them, particularly the women. If you like any of these things, pick up this book. 

Thank you to Netgalley for the advance copy for review. Scheduled to come out Nov 2, 2021.
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A story of two young women's friendship in the 1930's and the 1940's.  Both daughter of Sicilian Italian families who lives are greatly influenced by their fathers who both work for a Mafia type family.  Interesting read but not one that I would recommend.
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A coming of age story set in a New York mafia family during the 1930's and 40's. Told from the perspective of two girls as they grow up and become aware of what the family does. This is a thoroughly enjoyable, character driven novel that builds slowly but the final payoff is worth it. Highly recommended
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This book was too slow and meandering for me and I could not get into it. I didn't connect with any characters and the plot fell flat.
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The Family is a deep dive into friendship and family, as well as The Family.  Antonia and Sofia have been together their whole lives, growing up neighbors, both of whose fathers were "made men", in the mob.  Their friendship ebbs and wains, as each realizes her place in their world and thinks of leaving the Family or delving deeper into it.  Through WWII, through high school, through marriage and motherhood, they lose and find each other repeatedly.  The disappearance of Antonia's father never far from their minds, it affects their choices and personalities, but their devotion to eachother overides their fears and their loyalties throughout everything.  The writing in this novel is lucious and includes deeply described smells, feelings, sights, and tastes.  I enjoyed every page!
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The Family is a compelling read, the deeply personal story of two Sicilian-American girls and their families. Dense with imagery of early 20th Century New York and undercut by the threat of gangland violence, the book brings the two complex heroines vividly alive.
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Once you belong to<i>The Family</i> you are in it for life.  Antonia and Sofia are destined to be best friends since birth, neighbors of the same age, in Brooklyn in the 1920's.  Their fathers both work for The Family, but we see it from the girls' eyes, as they are younger - we bounce back and forth between the two.  Antonia's father is troubled - he wants out and suddenly, he disappears.  Without a trace. Antonia's mother is taken cared for, because that's how The Family works.  And because Sofia's father has become the head of The Family.  

As the novel sways back and forth, the reader is taken on a thick journey through two women's different journeys as a mafia daughter, wife, and partner. Antonia and Sofia may have grown up as sisters, but they eventually grew apart, making their own decisions and life choices; only to be united by the same family in the end.
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One cannot help but be reminded of the Ferrante Neapolitan novels when reading this novel centered around the close friendship between two women whose lives are inextricably entwined with the criminal enterprise that brought their families together.  Much more a character study than a plot driven work, The Family moved a bit slow for me in the first half, though it did pick up in the last quarter of the story.  While it turned out to be very different that what I was expecting, overall it was a satisfying read.
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First of all, thank you to Penguin Random House and Netgalley for this ARC. I was initially drawn to this title after reading the description. I've always been fascinated with Mafia stories, but particularly those that delve into the families of the working men, so I instantly requested an ARC of this book. 

This is a very slow burn, but the writing is just lovely. The story of two girls who grow up together in the same Family (NYC Italian mafia, not blood) and form a bond that is stronger than blood, this begins as a heartbreaking story of two families that end up on different paths after the not-so mysterious disappearance of one of their fathers. You follow the girls as they become women, wives, and mothers, lose each other and find each other again. 

Krupitsky's writing is absolutely lovely, however, I find it hard to get hooked on a book that isn't very dialogue driven, so I would say it wasn't until I was about halfway done with this book before it got to the point where I couldn't put it down. However, that's definitely not a criticism of the writing - it's more of just how my brain follows a book. The foundation that Krupitsky builds for these characters is critical to your understanding of their actions once the story picks up, and boy does it ever pick up. By the last quarter of this book I was reading wide-eyed and flying through it to see what would happen next. 

To borrow some imagery from the book, I feel like this story moves much like the ocean. Slow, rolling waves at first, and by the end the waves are crashing to the shore with much force.
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Mario Puzo meets Elena Ferrante in Krupitsky’s dynamite debut novel, a decades-spanning saga beginning in 1920s Brooklyn. “There is no easy way to untangle what is Family and what is family,” her characters realize to their chagrin and peril. Daughters of influential Mafiosos, fiery Sofia Colicchio and her introverted best friend, Antonia Russo, know their families aren’t typical. Schoolmates avoid them, their mothers constantly worry, and on Sundays they attend a large Italian feast at their fathers’ boss’s home. When Antonia’s papa tries to escape his profession, he gets “disappeared,” a terrible warning against future betrayals. Sofia and Antonia are resilient, multifaceted young women whose bond occasionally strains as they test the boundaries of independence, and their choice of husbands ensnares them further in Family business. Depicting twentieth-century Mafia families primarily from the female viewpoint is a fabulous concept that Krupitsky carries out with aplomb. Perspective shifts are smooth, and the backdrops of Prohibition and WWII are superbly realized. Italian American traditions (including delicious casseroles) are highlighted, and the unique immigration stories show why and how Italian and Jewish newcomers get pulled into organized crime. Fans of Adriana Trigiani and Lynda Cohen Loigman will inhale this tense, engrossing novel about family ties, women’s friendships, and the treacherous complications of loyalty.

(Reviewed for Booklist, 9/1/2021 issue)
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Solid historical fiction of a crime family's saga through the early 20th century.  This title would be a good pick for book clubs.
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Friendship and family are at the core of this ostensibly mafia story. Antonia and Sofia form a strong bond as young girls, which becomes stronger as they realize their fathers mafia ties keep other girls away. As they grow up they realize that any dreams for what they might have wanted take a back seat to what is best for the family. Family can be the ties that bind, but in this case, the ties that blind, causing both Sofia and Antonia to follow a course not of their own choosing. The mafia has been romanticized somewhat in popular culture. The Family provides a different point of view.
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Sofia and Antonia meet as very young girls who quickly become best friends as their fathers work for the Family and most other kids won't go near them.  As they grow they both dream of what their futures hold and how they'll live their lives separate from the Family, how they'll strike out on their own and find freedom to do what they want.  Reality is much harder however and the women find exactly what it means to be Family and what they are willing to do to protect the families they've built.
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I was so excited for  this book as I love mafia reads but there isn't a lot about the women behind the mafia. The first half of the book read a lot like a YA/coming of age novel and there was very little mafia for me. I was really hoping for me. It was a quick, interesting read but not exactly what I was looking for. 

Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for my advanced copy.
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