By Frank J. Bruno
“When I was sixty-three years old, I impregnated nineteen-year-old Terry Mezzogiorno.
She was unhappy about it. I was unhappy about it. My forty-three-year-old girlfriend was unhappy about it. It turned out that Terry’s ex-boyfriend, at the time in prison, was unhappy about it. My mother was unhappy about it. I felt that I had been thrown – or had thrown myself – into a deep pit. I couldn’t see the light. And I didn’t know how to dig myself out. And yet, as they say in Chinese philosophy, “From good comes bad. From bad comes good.” Consequently, I have quite a story to tell.”
Roberto Mastroianni is the protagonist of the novel. He is, as already indicated, its first-person narrator. He is sixty-three-years-old, a retired professor of English literature, and lives with his domineering Italian mother, eighty-year-old Luisa. He is, when the novel opens, a mamone, or “a mama’s boy.” He spends is life in limbo wandering between Boom-Boom’s Café, hanging out at his best friend Dino’s liquor store, working sporadically on a novel called Tough Guy, and dating his girlfriend, ex-stripper Julia. The status quo of his life is turned upside down when he begins a relationship with nineteen-year-old Terry, a waitress at Boom-Boom’s Café.
It is Terry who seduces Roberto. She is just using him for sex and a little companionship while waiting for roughneck Johnny Dalton, her boyfriend, to get out of prison. Terry is on the wild side. She ran away from home and her wino father, Garibaldi, at the age of sixteen.
When Johnny comes out of prison and finds out Terry is pregnant with another man’s child, the situation becomes complex and difficult. Terry continues to profess her love for the abusive Johnny.
A satisfactory resolution of the novel’s central problem is eventually achieved. I won’t spoil the book for you by giving away the details of its ending.
Sixty-three year old Roberto was a mama’s boy, and he was ok with that. His days were routine, breakfast with the guys, Sunday church with mama, Friday nights with his girlfriend. When Terry, his nineteen year old waitress, slips him her phone number, he eventually takes her out. Even though her boyfriend will get out of prison soon, Roberto can’t help but fall in love with her. True to her word, Terry drops Roberto immediately upon Johnnie showing up. But soon after, Johnnie deposits a bruised Terry at Roberto’s door. It seems she’s pregnant with Roberto’s baby. When she goes back to Johnnie though, Roberto realizes he must step up and fight for what he wants.
This book was a pleasant surprise. I went in thinking the read would be totally different than it actually was. I liked Roberto from the start. In true form, he was a typical Italian mama’s boy bachelor. All the surrounding characters were well-rounded and thought-out. I was rooting for Roberto and Terry to be together, but I also know how hormonal nineteen-year-old girls can be. Without giving it away, I can only say that I loved the ending even though it left me wanting more.
**The above opinions are 100% my own, whether I purchased the book or it was given to me to review.
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