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The Mezzogiorno (Southern Italy).
A Southern Italian family struggles to survive World War II.
Up to 85 per cent of Italian Americans have their roots in this region. The story of the Coriello family begins in the fictional fishing village of Punto Roccioso along the Amalfi Coast. Alta Italia (Northern Italy) looks down on their southern countrymen as uneducated peasants.
With limited opportunities available, many southern Italians dream of escaping poverty by leaving the land they love for a better life in America. But like all dreams, hardships, sacrifices, and realities intrude.
Having lived through World War I, the Spanish Flu, the dictatorship of Benito Mussolini, and racial laws, Raffaela must raise and feed her ten children without any help from her estranged abusive husband Giuseppe, who refuses to give her money. With the support of her two oldest children, Geno, and Luisa, she struggles to survive. World War II devastates Italy and Italian Americans alike when “Il Duce” joins Hitler’s side, leaving Italians vulnerable at home and the object of hatred abroad.
Young Italians are sent around the world to fight in a war they don’t believe in. At home, Jewish families are under increasing threat.
Yet, Italian men and women rebound to fight the Germans and Italian Fascists with a large and fervent partisan guerilla army.
Meanwhile, in America, Raffaela’s young Uncle Corrado has struggles of his own. He vows to move from the tenements of New York’s Little Italy, build a business, marry, bring over family members, and make good on his version of the American dream.
But America is not so welcoming. Ignorance and prejudice reveal the ugliness of the immigrant experience as numbers of Italian Americans find themselves confined to internment camps during World War II.
Their courage and the ability to survive are a testament to the resilience of the Italian people who left their homeland with little else but a dream and changed America in the process.
"""Only Our Destiny by A.G. Russo is an incredibly immersive fictional plunge into the human condition, laid bare in stark reality...without doubt a powerful read: one I would put up there with the best I have had the pleasure to experience.""
Steven Robson for Reader's Favorite, 5 Stars
""...A.G. Russo does an outstanding job of bringing all the characters to life...The result is a story that vividly captures not just one key point in Italian history, but the immigrant experience and the roots of change...It is highly recommended reading for those who want in-depth history-based details paired with believable, moving characters' lives.""
D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
This story is absolutely amazing!
Whenever I read historical fiction I get so wrapped up in the lives of the characters that I want to know everything about them. Where they lived, their living conditions, cooking methods used, along with popular food items of the period, clothing styles, education - you name it, I want to know about it. A.G. Russo has excelled in writing a novel that authentically depicts every aspect of the time period. The characters have depth and integrity, and the dialogue is spot on, taking the reader straight back to another time and place. I imagined myself walking amongst the characters as I was reading.
I am truly in awe of ONLY OUR DESTINY by A.G. Russo. I highly recommend this book to fans of historical fiction, and those wanting to experience the life and times of a different era. The author manages to cover some serious ground in a seamless, thoughtful read. A well-deserved five stars from me.
Piaras Cionnaoith, Goodreads/Amazon Review"