In early 20th century Brooklyn, Antonia and Sofia are two Italian American girls whose fathers are in the mafia, and they have only one another to turn to for understanding. When Antonia's father disappears, it creates a distance between them that grows wider with each passing year—until one fateful night their loyalty to each other and "the Family" will be tested.
Naomi Krupitsky’s immersive debut is an intoxicating hybrid of The Sopranos and the novels of Elena Ferrante ... San Francisco writer Krupitsky has deeper issues than Mafia loyalty to probe, homing in on the girls’ ebbing and flowing attachments ... The writing is downright dazzling. New York City is a character in itself ... Krupitsky makes you hear the Brooklyn accents over traditional Sunday dinners even as you are smelling the pasta gravy ... The novel is occasionally a bit too repetitive. We are told over and over how every character yearns to vanish into another, better world ... as this novel skillfully, inevitably hurtles to its shattering conclusion, it’s brilliantly clear that in this dangerous world, the ruling forces will make sure that you can never truly know what the right answer—or its cost—may be.
... a tale that’s vivid, authentic and filled with the unexpected ... Filled with sharp descriptive details of New York City, the focus here is on homes, church, school, and the lives of women and children—people who’ve found themselves, mainly through marriage or inheritance, affiliated with the mob. The men too are viewed through the lens of family and the unique, impossible tension of trying to balance brutality and love ... This tension is what makes The Family so striking—the way a life of violence becomes a backdrop for what is, in many respects, a rich yet ordinary human story ... Krupitsky depicts complex, internal states with restraint. This is the real pleasure of the novel—its careful, painstaking portrayal of emotional depth. Sometimes the narrative can feel a little stretched: Its omniscient narration leaps from character to character and perspective to perspective, often within the same paragraph, and it can be taxing to try to keep up with the story’s momentum. This is less of an issue as the novel proceeds and the characters’ personalities become increasingly, inevitably familiar ... Once you read this novel of blood and love, promises and betrayal, you may never look at family in quite the same way again.
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.