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Brooklyn Story
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Brooklyn Story

4.2 23
by Suzanne Corso

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Perfectly evoking the sights and sounds of the summer of 1978 in Brooklyn, Suzanne Corso makes an acclaimed fiction debut with this powerful coming-of-age tale, told from an adult perspective, of family, best friends, first loves, and big dreams waiting to come true. . . .

Samantha Bonti is fifteen years old, half Jewish and half


Perfectly evoking the sights and sounds of the summer of 1978 in Brooklyn, Suzanne Corso makes an acclaimed fiction debut with this powerful coming-of-age tale, told from an adult perspective, of family, best friends, first loves, and big dreams waiting to come true. . . .

Samantha Bonti is fifteen years old, half Jewish and half Italian, and hesitantly edging toward pure Brooklyn. She lives in Bensonhurst with her mother, Joan, a woman poisoned with cynicism and shackled by addictions; and with her Grandma Ruth, Samantha’s loudest and most opinionated source of encouragement. As flawed as they are, they are family. And this is home—a tight-knit community of ancestors and traditions, of controlling mobsters, compliant wives, and charismatic young guys willing to engage in anything illegal to get a shot at playing with the big boys. Yet Samantha has something that even her most simpatico girlfriend, Janice Caputo, doesn’t share—a desire to become a writer and to escape their insular, overcrowded little world and the destiny that is assumed for all of them.

Then comes Tony Kroon. He’s a gorgeous mobster wannabe, a Bensonhurst Adonis whose seductive charms Samantha finds irresistible—even when she knows she’s too smart to fall this deep . . . but Samantha soon finds herself swallowed up by dangerous circumstances that threaten to jeopardize more than her dreams. Grandma Ruth’s advice: Samantha had better write herself out of this story and into a new one, fast.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Tony Manero wouldn't be out of place in this competent coming-of-age debut set in 1978 Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, where Samantha Bonti longs to make it in the big time across the East River. With her Smith-Corona, ambition, good looks, and little else--Sam's Jewish mom's a bitter, drunken mess on welfare, her Italian dad's long gone--the 15-year-old negotiates the shady world of the "Brooklyn Boys" and what it means to be the girlfriend of mob acolyte Tony Kroon. "All ya need is me," he ominously insists. Corso gets the Brooklyn dialect pitch-perfect and keeps the pace brisk, and though the narration too often reads like stage notes, the universal story of longing, loyalty, and growing up rings true. (Jan.)
Kirkus Reviews

In an unvarnished debut, a good girl needs to get over her love for a bad boy in order to follow her dream.

Corso's story, drawn from her own experience and narrated in Runyonesque tones—"Ya wanna walk wid me, Samantha Bonti?"—but minus the humor, introduces the daughter of a bitter, ravaged mother whose abusive husband abandoned the family early and without financial support. Innocent, 15-year-old Samantha, living in Italian-dominated Bensonhurst, knows she is both different, because of her part Jewish/part Italian background, and special, because she has an ambition: to escape and be a writer. Her material, which is her life, becomes much more dramatic after meeting hunky Tony Kroon, who hangs out with the local mafia and has absorbed their ideas of how a girlfriend should behave and be treated. Sam enjoys Tony's looks, cash and admiration and seems able to turn a blind eye to his criminal activities, but love turns to dismay when he becomes violent and might be cheating. Encouraged by her best friend, a teacher, a priest and her devoted grandmother, Sam chooses to break the cycle of abuse, but her dream of crossing the Brooklyn Bridge to a new life and a place at New York University is jeopardized by one last wound inflicted by Tony.

A naïve coming-of-age tale which, despite sexual content, seems more suited to a young adult readership.

From the Publisher
"This is a wonderful and moving nostalgia trip. Corso is a gifted and sensitive writer, and her debut novel is straight from the heart."

—Nelson DeMille

Product Details

Gallery Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.60(w) x 8.50(h) x 1.20(d)

Meet the Author

Suzanne is the author of two feature film screenplays, has produced two documentaries, and written one children's book. She currently lives in New York City. This is her first novel.

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Brooklyn Story 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 23 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
For anyone who grew up in Bensonhurst in the 70's & 80's you have to read this book. Suzanne is right on point with the lifestyle of the neighborhood. She writes about what everyone dreams about and shows young women that through Samanta Bonti you can get out of a bad situation. Excellent job Suzanne!!!!
bridget3420 More than 1 year ago
Brilliantly written and fascinating, Brooklyn Story is unique book that worms its way into your heart. I will never forget this heartfelt book and all of the emotions that it invokes in the reader. Suzanne's inspirational writing is pure and a breath of fresh air. I highly recommend this book to other readers.
MartaNYC More than 1 year ago
This is the story of a young woman who had the odds stacked against her and triumphed. Her voice is that of a survivor. All she had was her belief in herself and her faith. She will win your heart from the very first sentence to the very last. You will not be able to put the book down until you know what's to become of her. Then it leaves you wondering ... Where is Samantha Bonti today?
BookReviewsByMolly More than 1 year ago
Well, how do I start off this review? It's not a bad book. Let's start with that. It's different. This is a book about a time of poverty, and of longing for an escape to a better life. A book about mobs and gangsters. Definitely not the style of book that I would normally pick. But, as always, I feel every book deserves a chance, and then an opinion formed. This book is wonderfully researched. The depth of the story lies in the way the author created a real to life feel to the story. A time period during which a mobster has a woman and he controls her, even abuses her. VERY emotional on that end. The characters are as deep and complex as the plot, created a gripping novel. So, in conclusion, while not a terrible book, it is still not my favorite. There were some things about the book, like it's not my style of plot and the abusive situations weren't my favorite, but over all, it is one that I would suggest you try. It's deserving of 4 stars for the complexity and the depth the author uses. I will be looking for other books by this author in the future to see what other talent she holds.
MikeDraper More than 1 year ago
In August, 1978, Samantha Sonti, is fifteen-years-old. She lives in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn with the dream of some day becoming a writer and crossing the Brooklyn Bridge to become a success in Manhattan. Samantha, "Sam" is half-Jewish, half-Catholic in a neighborhood that is predominantly Catholics of Italian heritage. She is sometimes shunned in this Italian neighborhood. Fortunately, as she begins high school, she meets Janice Caputo, a senior at the school. Janice is street savvy and becomes Sam's best friend. At the feast of Santa Rosalia, mixed with the sounds of the elevated subway and the sizzle and aroma of sausage and peppers, Janice introduces Sam to a twenty-year-old named Tony Kroon. Kroon is also of mixed hertitage, being Dutch-Italian. He's a muscular construction worker, very handsome and has blond hair. Sam becomes infatuated with Tony and thinks that she's met her dream man. She writes about her experiences in the manuscript she is wonking on and feels a happiness unlike anything she's felt before. On the other hand, she is conscientious with Tony because of her sick mother and the fact that she and her mother live on Sam's grandmother's social security and Sam's mother's welfare checks. Although happy in her relationship with Tony, Tony is controlling and wanting to advance their romance to a degree that Sam isn't ready for. She creates boundaries and demands respect. The novel tells the story of their relationship and Tony's Italian friends who are obviously doing illegal things. When Tony begins spending large amounts of money on Sam, she is concerned about where the money came from. In a touching story, we observe Tony change from controlling to abusive and what the result is with Sam. She is a courageous person with dreams that won't be dimmed. The story is well told with excellent dialogue. Sam's descriptions of her Brooklyn neighborhood make it easy for the reader to picture what the setting must be like. This is an important novel that should be placed on the shelves of shelters that help abused women. This is a debut novel from an author with great promise.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book.
LhKS More than 1 year ago
Entertaining and easy to read. This book will not take you long to read and that is good because you won't want to put it down. I enjoyed this book and recommended it to several people.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
sparklenurse More than 1 year ago
This was a fabulous book. Great debut novel. Besides the content, she really creates a suspense that keeps one engrossed. Having grown up with many characters like those in the book, being a former new Yorker......the book was just incredible. I felt like this was the emotional sequal to Saturday Night Fever. Having graduated high school in 1977, and growing up in New York, we were all exposed to this lifestyle. It reveals the vulnerability of young girls growing up in that era. Great writer, loved the book, I couldn't put it Down!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The idea was good but it ended up coming off very contrived. Complete lack of editing too - issues with continuity popped up several times and lots of subjects were brought up out of nowhere, then dropped completely. "I hadn't seen Tony since he dropped me off" when the story clearly says she took the subway home by herself after their last date. Father Rinaldi in the church - he didn't give her the money, Janice did, so what did he put in her hand? Things like that were rampant and distracting. The bridge metaphor was *way* overdone.
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Cullen0114 More than 1 year ago
After seeing the great book cover and reading the inside jacket, I wanted to like this book, but sadly, I did not. For her first novel, my main problem were the dialogues between her and her friend, her boyfriend and most egregious, her priest. In every chapter it seemed forced and painfully stereotypical of "New York" talk. It made me cringe. The main character's mother is so oddly fragmented and under developed, leaving me wanting to know more about this very troubled figure and her impact on her daughter. The amateurish dialogue was written so poorly that it made me wonder, where in the publishing of this book was her editor? The story was lost on me through all of this and although I finished it, I felt this was a book that needed major rewrites and maybe should have gone right to paperback. I applaud anyone on their first try on a novel, but I feel the editor really let her down to allow this to go to press.
harstan More than 1 year ago
In the summer of 1978, fifteen year old Samantha Bonti of Bensonhurst dreams of becoming a writer living on the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge. Being half-Jewish and with no father in the household since her Italian dad abandoned her and her mom, Sam is treated as a pariah by the Italian Catholic neighbors. Her Jewish mother Joan is filled with rage at humanity including her daughter and alcohol fuels her bitterness; while Grandma Ruth is her cheerleader encouraging Sam to go for it. Sam's BFF is fellow outcast Janice Caputo who loathes her heritage that she sees as stifling crap in which males thrive to be the next great gangster. Sam's world spins out of control when she meets half-Sicilian, half-Dutch Tony Kroon, a mobster in training. She falls in love with him as she believes he understands her dual heritage. However, Tony warns her to never question his work. Her mom normally ignores her but tells her to dump him as he is no good; Grandma Ruth tells her bubelah to drop him before she loses her dream and becomes her mother's clone. This is an entertaining character study of a teen seeking to belong while also dreaming of escaping to that other island across the water. Sam makes the tale work as readers will dream a little dream with her (paraphrasing Mama Cass) while also wondering whether she will cross the East River to truly go after her desires or remain in Brooklyn with Tony who climbs the ladder of his chosen vocation. Harriet Klausner