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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Reminiscent of John Fante's Wait Until Spring, Bandini and William Goldman's The Temple of Gold, Robert Merullo's third novel is the story of a young man's journey through adolescence as he's swept up by tragedy, the overpowering love of his extended family, and his own acute intelligence.
Middle-aged Anthony Benedetto is the narrator who recounts his youth in the coastal town of Revere, Massachusetts, during the early 1960s. Born into a large Italian-American family, "Tonio" grows up amid loving parents and grandparents, as well as a host of eccentric kin. Although their existence is tinged with the travails and melancholy of the "common" life, they are affectionate and hopeful people.
But when Tonio's father and pregnant mother die in a plane crash, the family is thrown into turmoil. Tonio's uncle Peter, a large and powerful man with a weakness for gambling, becomes a paternal figure who's as much a guide through life as an example of what not to become. Tonio's teenage cousin Rosalie, whom he dreams of marrying, soon becomes embittered and filled with self-loathing. As the decade becomes increasingly chaotic she begins a spiraling descent into drugs and abusive relationships despite Tonio's efforts to save her.
In Revere, in Those Days is a moving and poignant novel that reads with the authenticity of autobiography. The depth of Merullo's sentimentality is skillfully realized through a fully developed, ripened narrative voice. Even when detailing sorrow and anguish, the author sidesteps cynicism to give us a compassionate, insightful view of the beauty in the world at large. This is a masterpiece of loss and virtue that will touch you to the core. Tom Piccirilli