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Mob Daughter: The Mafia, Sammy

Mob Daughter: The Mafia, Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, and Me!

3.6 163
by Karen Gravano, Lisa Pulitzer

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From Karen Gravano, a star of the hit VH1 reality show Mob Wives, comes a revealing memoir of a mafia childhood, where love and family come hand-in-hand with murder and betrayal.

Karen Gravano is the daughter of Sammy "the Bull" Gravano, once one of the mafia's most feared hit men. With nineteen confessed murders, the former Gambino Crime Family underboss


From Karen Gravano, a star of the hit VH1 reality show Mob Wives, comes a revealing memoir of a mafia childhood, where love and family come hand-in-hand with murder and betrayal.

Karen Gravano is the daughter of Sammy "the Bull" Gravano, once one of the mafia's most feared hit men. With nineteen confessed murders, the former Gambino Crime Family underboss—and John Gotti's right-hand man—is the highest ranking gangster ever to turn State's evidence and testify against members of his high-profile crime family.

But to Karen, Sammy Gravano was a sometimes elusive but always loving father figure. He was ever-present at the head of the dinner table. He made a living running a construction firm and several nightclubs. He stayed out late, and sometimes he didn't come home at all. He hosted "secret" meetings at their house, and had countless whispered conversations with "business associates." By the age of twelve, Karen knew he was a gangster. And as she grew up, while her peers worried about clothes and schoolwork, she was coming face-to-face with crime and murder. Gravano was nineteen years old when her father turned his back on the mob and cooperated with the Feds. The fabric of her family was ripped apart, and they were instantly rejected by the communities they grew up in.

Mob Daughter is the story of a daughter's struggle to reconcile the image of her loving father with that of a murdering Mafioso, and how, in healing the rift between the two, she was able to forge a new life.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Told with candor and swagger, befitting a daughter of Mafia royalty.” —Publishers Weekly

“Told with candor and swagger, befitting a daughter of Mafia royalty.”—Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly
Written by Gravano, the daughter of former mob underboss Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, and former New York Times correspondent Pulitzer, the book admits, rather than denies, what published stories have already revealed about her convicted father, who confessed to 19 murders. At age 12, Gravano learned the truth of her father’s profession, the secret meetings, the mob rituals, the bodyguards, and guns in her home in Brooklyn. Life has its perks for a Mafia princess, the respect of her peers, the outings at her father’s New Jersey horse farm, and summers in Cream Ridge, N.J. She remembers fondly the fallen godfather Paul “Big Paulie” Castellano, and John “the Dapper Don” Gotti, who replaced him after his slaying in midtown Manhattan. Family loyalties clash with mob traditions when she speaks bluntly about her father ratting out Gotti in exchange for a 20-year sentence. The story of her later years, complete with prison visits with her father, her criminal exploits, and newfound celebrity on a reality show, Mob Wives, is told with candor and swagger, befitting a daughter of Mafia royalty. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Gravano, a cast member on Vh1's reality show Mob Wives, has written a book about growing up as Sammy "the Bull" Gravano's daughter. Sammy is best known as the Gambino crime family underboss who admitted to participating in 19 hits and who testified (at the time, the highest-ranking Mafioso ever to do so) against his former boss, John Gotti. Gravano, who was 19 at the time, felt betrayed by her father and lost her status overnight as a mafia princess. Barred from her friends' homes and soon out of work (her florist business tanked without her father's support), she started a new life and sold weed to get by. Eventually she joined her family in the witness protection program in Arizona. After five years in prison, her father rejoined them, only to be sent back to jail after the entire family was arrested in an early-morning drug raid. VERDICT This doesn't exactly square with the principle of omertà, but who cares? While not a literary masterpiece, this book is a fun, quick read—perfect for the beach. A companion that will be popular with fans of the television show.—Karen Sandlin Silverman, Ctr. for Applied Research, Philadelphia
Kirkus Reviews
Gravano's dishy tell-all about growing up in the shadow of her father, Sammy "The Bull" Gravano. The author, a star of the VH1 reality-TV show Mob Wives, delivers a memoir that's the literary equivalent of reality TV. Now 39, Gravano grew up in Brooklyn, where her father worked in construction, ran nightclubs and served as the Gambino family underboss. Much of what Gravano recalls qualifies hers as a healthy, happy girlhood. Married, her parents insisted on regular family dinners during which everyone would share something they'd learned that day. The other part, though, concerning how she came to understand her father's role in the mafia and what it meant for her family, stands in stark contrast to anyone's idea of a normal childhood. She knew from a young age that her father was a criminal, but her fierce loyalty to him has never wavered and her perspective is decidedly one-sided: "Seeing my father upset made me feel like the cops were the bad guys." At another point, after witnessing his fight with a landscape designer, Gravano writes, "My father was very fair when it came to the bottom line, and he expected the people he dealt with to be honest and reasonable as well." The author's worship of her father makes her views on the man read as somewhat delusional, especially considering his lengthy criminal history. Readable but neither scintillating nor illuminating.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
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5.68(w) x 8.02(h) x 0.71(d)

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Mob Daughter

The Mafia, Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, and Me!
By Karen Gravano

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2012 Karen Gravano
All right reserved.

ISBN: 9781250003058

“If we have to go to war, that’s what we have to do.” 

I was nine years old when I began to suspect that my father was a gangster. It was Sunday and Dad had us all packed into the car for an afternoon of house hunting. He loved driving around different neighborhoods, pointing out houses he liked and sharing his renovation ideas. On this particular Sunday, we were cruising around Todt Hill, an upscale community on the southern end of Staten Island, filled with homes owned by doctors, lawyers, and “businessmen.”
Mom was in the front seat with Dad, and my younger brother, Gerard, and I were buckled in the back. My father had just finished the renovations on a three-bedroom house he’d bought for us in Bulls Head, a predominantly blue-collar neighborhood just over the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge and not far from the two-bedroom apartment we had been renting in Bensonhurst, Brooklyn.
My father was obsessed with construction and remodeling. He’d ripped apart and remodeled every place we’d ever lived in. He’d started tearing apart the new house the minute we had taken ownership, knocking down walls and putting in improvements, like nice European tiles.
My brother and I attended the local public school, P.S. 60. My mother would walk me to school every day. I had some good friends there, but Dad’s friend Louie Milito was forever suggesting that he transfer me to the private prep school on “The Hill.” His own daughter, Dina, went there. And so did Dori LaForte. Dori’s grandfather was a big player in the Gambino crime family. “The Hill” had large manicured homes dotting its steep streets and was about ten minutes from our three-bedroom house on Leggett Place. Anybody who was anybody lived on “The Hill.”
One particular house in this fancy neighborhood belonged to Gambino family crime boss Paul Castellano. We were on one of our Sunday expeditions when Dad pointed it out to us. It was an enormous monster of a house, unlike any other in the neighborhood. It was way fancier and more ornate. It looked more like an Italian villa or a museum, with its iron gates and a gigantic fountain spewing water in the middle of a large, circular brick driveway filled with expensive cars and incredibly manicured grounds. It must have cost a fortune. There was an elaborate security system with surveillance cameras monitoring the perimeter, which seemed to span an entire block.
“Wow,” I said. “What does Paul do that he has such a big house?”
“He’s in the construction business,” my father replied.
I remembered thinking how glad I was that my father worked in the same business as Paul, so that maybe one day we could get a mansion like that. Dad didn’t say Paul was his boss in one of New York’s biggest, most blood-letting, most feared crime families, or that the construction business wasn’t building somebody a little house, but more like construction racketeering, loan-sharking, and extortion. He didn’t mention being a businessman like Paul was putting your life on the line. I’d have to wait to learn this angle of the business.
By the fall, my father announced that I was going to be transferring to a new school. He wanted me to get a superior education and had me enrolled at the prestigious Staten Island Academy. I was furious about leaving my friends and worried that I wouldn’t fit in with the kids at private school. I was there just a few weeks when a classmate invited me over to her house to play. She lived so close to school, we could see the playground from her yard. It was a beautiful day, and we were outside on her front lawn. Her mother had just gone inside to make us some lemonade when my new friend made a startling announcement.
“My mother and father say a big gangster lives in that house,” she said, pointing across the street to the Castellano estate.
I knew that Paul was Dad’s friend. I put two and two together and decided if Paul Castellano was a gangster, my father must be one, too. He just didn’t act like a gangster. My idea of a gangster was Vito Corleone, the fictional mob boss in The Godfather. The movie had even been filmed a few blocks from my school.
Still, I’d been confronted with the possibility that my father was “connected” before. When I was six, I found a gun in my parents’ bedroom in our apartment on Sixty-first Street in Bensonhurst. Mom was in the kitchen, and I was amusing myself by hiding some of my favorite books under their bed. That’s when I came upon the pistol Dad had stuffed beneath the mattress. I knew my father had served in the army during the Vietnam War because I’d seen his dog tags. I wondered if this was a souvenir from the war. Racing to the kitchen, I went to ask my mother about my startling discovery.
“Mommy, does Daddy have a gun because he was in the army?”
“Yeah” was all she could muster.
The next day, I bragged to my friends at school, telling them my father had a gun under the bed because he was in the army. My teacher overheard me and went directly to my mother. When Dad found out, he wasn’t upset. He just told me not to talk about it anymore.
My father had this “coolness” about him. He was hipper than the other kids’ dads. He wore sweats and gold chains, and he had tattoos, Jesus on one arm and a rose on the other. He also had a small diamond in the middle of his chest. He owned nightclubs and always stayed out late. Some of his friends were bouncers. They spoke and dressed differently from the dads of the other kids at school. They had wads of cash in their pockets and always came bearing gifts, even if it was just a box of pastries on Sunday.
On weekends, my father would sometimes take me with him to “the club” in Bensonhurst. I didn’t know it then, but it was a local mobster hangout, also known as a men’s “social club.” Dad would first get the car washed and then we’d stop in. Guys would be playing cards and drinking coffee. The club looked like a big kitchen, with tables and chairs set out around the room and a few pictures, mostly scenes of Italy, hanging on the walls. There were no women around, ever. An older man named “Toddo” was usually at one of the tables in the back. He was always nicely dressed in slacks and a sweater, sporting a big, fancy watch and a pinky ring.
“Hey Bo, what’s up?” my father would say. It’s how he addressed everyone, even me. I didn’t know why he addressed people as Bo, not Bro.
“Go say hello to Uncle Toddo,” he’d instruct, pushing me in the old man’s direction.
I’d have to go over and hug and kiss him. “How you doing, kiddo?” he’d ask. The old man would pat me on the head and then stick a twenty-dollar bill in my pocket.
I thought it was weird the way the men all kissed each other on one cheek and then exchanged a firm handshake. No one just walked into a room and said hello; it was always a handshake, and there always seemed to be an order of whose hand should be shaken first. Obviously, I didn’t know that Toddo was Salvatore “Toddo” Aurello, a capo in the Gambino crime family, and my father’s boss and mentor in the mob. I just thought Dad respected him more because he was older.
It wasn’t until I was twelve years old that I knew for certain that my father was a gangster. Even then, I knew not to ask any questions.
*   *   *
When I was in middle school, I overheard my parents talking about some guy who wanted to buy one of my father’s nightclubs. It was late afternoon and we were all over at my aunt Fran’s for Sunday dinner. Fran was one of my father’s older sisters. She and her husband, Eddie, lived across the street from us in a two-family house. Dad’s mother also lived there, in an apartment downstairs.
Aunt Fran was closer to my father than his sister Jean. Dad and Fran were closer in age and seemed to have more in common. Fran was always warm and loving. She played the piano, and she taught Gerard and me how to play. She’d sit us down and tell us stories about my grandparents, and how they had come over from Italy. My father’s mother, Kay, wrote children’s stories that were published here in the United States. Aunt Fran would read us those stories, and she’d add to them with her own fanciful fabrications. One of Grandma Kay’s stories was about a little girl named Karen and a rabbit. Another one was about my cousins and how they flew through the city on the wings of an eagle. My Aunt Jean, or Jeannie, who was Dad’s eldest sister, kept the books at her house, but they were all lost in a fire after Grandma Gravano died. Jeannie was married to my uncle Angelo. He wasn’t involved in “the life.” He was an engineer.
Jeannie was much older than Dad. We would go over to their house a lot. Uncle Angelo was into golf and tennis, and he had a fish tank in his basement. We weren’t allowed to touch any of his things. Dad loved Angelo. He was more like a father figure to Sammy. Uncle Angelo was a hard man, but he was very generous. He had a lot of morals, and he stood behind his morals. When two of his kids got in trouble for smoking marijuana, he threw them out of the house. Dad couldn’t relate to that type of discipline; no matter what I did, he would never disown me.
On the nights that Dad worked late in Brooklyn, we’d usually go over to Aunt Fran’s for dinner. Dad would meet us there when he got home. He had this thing about eating together as a family every night, and made it a point to be home at five sharp.
I remember sitting around the long white table in Aunt Fran’s dining room when Dad started telling everybody about this Czechoslovakian guy named Frank Fiala. He said the guy was “nuts.” I wasn’t sure what this guy was doing that made Dad think he was out of his mind, but whatever it was, it was beginning to piss off my father. I knew that Frank Fiala wanted to buy The Plaza Suite on Sixty-eighth Street in Gravesend, Brooklyn. It was my father’s most successful nightclub. Dad owned the entire building and operated The Plaza Suite out of the second floor. His construction company headquarters and a showroom for his carpet and wood flooring company were on the ground floor. The discotheque was enormous. It spanned the entire five thousand square feet of the building and had a bar, a dance floor, and a private VIP lounge. People lined up outside for hours hoping to get in. For a time, Dad was there practically every night, but with his construction business demanding more of his time, he was looking to unload the place.
Frank offered my father a million dollars for the club. Dad had accepted his offer, but I think he was starting to have second thoughts. A few days after we first heard about Frank Fiala, my father didn’t show up for dinner. I’d been waiting for him to get home so I could ask him if my best friend, Toniann, could sleep over. Mom said I needed Dad’s permission. He almost always said yes.
Six o’clock rolled around and he still wasn’t home.
“Where’s Daddy?” I asked my mother.
She looked up from her pot of tomato sauce. “Your father is busy. He won’t be joining us for dinner.”
“Well, can Toniann sleep over?”
“Let’s wait until your father gets home and see what he says.”
“But you just said he’s not coming home for dinner. When will he be back?”
“I don’t know. And honestly, I don’t know if this is a good night for Toniann to be here anyhow. Maybe she should go home now.” She packed up the sauce in plastic containers. “We’re going across the street to eat with your grandmother, Aunt Fran, and the kids. Get your brother, put on some clean clothes, and let’s get going.”
There was a strange vibe in Aunt Fran’s house that evening. Uncle Eddie wasn’t around, which was also odd. None of the adults said anything while they set out the food, a sure sign something was wrong because my family members were big talkers. Even though I wanted to, I didn’t ask Mom any more questions.
After dinner, I asked her if I could go across the street to Toniann’s to play until my father came home. “You can play, but only for half an hour.”
“What about the sleepover?” I pressed.
She sighed. “Ask your father when he gets home. If he doesn’t come home, it’ll have to be another night.”
We were out playing in Toniann’s front yard when Uncle Eddie’s car roared around the corner and screeched into our driveway. Dad jumped out and ran into our house, and I ran in after him. He wasn’t in the living room or the kitchen, so I wandered upstairs. The door to the bedroom was shut. The moment I cracked it opened, Dad turned and looked at me with a serious face.
“Don’t you knock?” He quickly turned his back to me, but not before I saw him jam a revolver into the waistband of his jeans. I tried to figure out if something was wrong, but his body language revealed nothing. He was calm and together. I stared at him and struggled to convince myself that I hadn’t seen the gun. After a long pause, I finally said, “I was just going to ask if I could have a sleepover with…”
He interrupted, “No, you can’t!” He untucked his T-shirt and turned around to face me.
“Why not?” I whined. “What’s the big deal?”
“Not tonight. You can have one over the weekend. And I can’t talk about this right now. I gotta go.” His eyes were cold; I felt as if he was looking through me. He spoke really quickly, his mind clearly somewhere else. He grabbed a pair of black leather gloves off the top of his dresser and brushed by me.
I followed him into the hallway, watched him stomp down the stairs, and called after him, “Why do you need the gloves? It’s the middle of the summer.” I knew in my heart that something bad was about to happen, and I was terrified.
He stopped, stared, and said, “Why do you ask so many questions?”
“I don’t know. I was just asking.”
“One day, you’re gonna make a good lawyer.” He slowly came back up the stairs, bent down, and kissed me on the forehead. “I promise you can have a sleepover before we leave for the farm next week.” The farm was Dad’s pride and joy, a thirty-acre working horse farm he’d purchased and renovated in rural New Jersey. We’d spent every summer there since Dad bought the place.
“Trust me, tonight’s not a good night,” my father told me. “Now I want you to be a good girl. You’re the oldest. You’re in charge and you have to take care of your brother. And don’t drive your mother nuts.” He kissed me again, stood up, and headed out the door.
My father had an uncanny ability to make me feel that everything was okay no matter what the circumstances. Even seeing him leave the house with a gun tucked in his pants that night seemed fine.
My mother was in the kitchen and missed the whole conversation. I didn’t bother to tell her what I’d seen.
*   *   *
The following morning, the headline in the newspaper on our kitchen table said: MURDER OUTSIDE THE PLAZA SUITE. Dad was in the kitchen acting normal. I didn’t even know if he saw me reading the article. I didn’t have time to read it all, but I noticed that the victim was Frank Fiala.
I knew the guy had been doing some things to annoy my father. But murder? I stopped reading the minute my father sat down at the breakfast table. Neither of us said a word.
Later that week, Dad ordered my mother to pack up my brother and me and head to the farm in Cream Ridge. When Dad had bought the place, it was pretty dilapidated. But he said it had potential and a lot of property. My father fell in love with it immediately. As soon as we took ownership, he was knocking down walls and doing his elaborate renovations. Soon, the run-down old farmhouse with a couple of barns and some rusty farm equipment became a spectacular estate with an in-ground pool. It had a state-of-the-art facility for training and boarding horses and a professional racetrack in the front yard. The track was an exact replica of the Freehold Raceway in New Jersey. My father hired a trainer from the barn in Staten Island where my brother and I took lessons and built a small house for him on the property. Most of the horses the trainer worked with were trotters that competed at Meadowlands Racetrack. My father even restored the old horse-drawn carriage that was left behind by a previous owner.
It bothered me that we were leaving for the farm so suddenly and without Dad. We weren’t even supposed to be going for another few days. The farm was a place where my family would always have fun. There was always something to do there. It was about an hour and forty-five minutes south of Staten Island in the historic town of Cream Ridge. The area was so rural compared to Staten Island. It had hills covered in trees, narrow two-lane roads, and lots of large horse farms. It took five minutes just to get down the bumpy dirt road that dead-ended in our driveway.
The main house was enormous and had breathtaking views of our thirty acres of grassy land. The exterior had been white when we bought it, but was now gray. It was surrounded by a beautiful stone porch that had a big table and lots of outdoor chairs. I adored that house. My bedroom was upstairs with a view of the track, which I loved. I was into horseback riding and spent hours with Snowflake, my beautiful white pony. In Staten Island, I rode on an English saddle, but it was Western at the farm.
We spent most of the summer in Cream Ridge. Mom liked to putter around in the garden and my brother, Gerard, kept himself busy dirt biking around the vast property. During the summer, Dad commuted back and forth. He’d leave the farm on a Tuesday and come back on Thursday. My father was a different person when he was at the farm. He’d sit out on the front porch in the mornings, sipping coffee and watching the trainers on the track. He always seemed relaxed, as though he didn’t have a care in the world.
He’d bring friends and their families from New York. I didn’t know it at the time, but all the friends were involved in the Mafia. My father had one rule. There was to be no shoptalk at the farm. “If you come up, you need to bring your coveralls because everyone is pitching in,” he’d say. We shared lots of laughs. There were always people around and construction going on.
But the day Dad sent us to the farm early, things didn’t go according to the rule. First, he arrived unexpectedly. It was just before dinner when I heard the crunch of gravel on the driveway. Sprinting to the window, I saw Dad’s maroon Lincoln pulling up, and several other cars arriving behind his. My father had told us he wouldn’t be coming for several more days. And yet here he was. Not only that, he had “Stymie” with him in the car. Stymie was Joe D’Angelo, my father’s closest friend.
Dad said he had met him on the “street.” The two men were so simpatico they even looked alike with their dark brown hair and short stocky builds, although at five feet eight inches tall Stymie had a good three inches on my father. They dressed the same, too, in similar sweat suits and sneakers. Stymie owned a bar in Brooklyn called Docks. Dad referred to him as his right-hand man.
My father was in his white T-shirt and sweatpants when he stepped out of the car. Stymie was wearing a sweatshirt over his shirt. He didn’t have his wife with him, which was very unusual. When Dad’s friends came up, they always brought their families. Uncle Eddie and several other members of Dad’s work crew got out of the other vehicles. None of them had their wives and kids along.
I ran around to the kitchen to say hello to my father. He was talking to my mother in a hushed voice. I saw her shaking her head.
“Okay,” she whispered, before following my dad outside.
That night, Mom served dinner out on the back porch, which was completely screened in. There was a low wall around the base of the porch supporting the screens. When I wanted to eavesdrop on my parents’ conversations I could hide behind it, out of view. I’d often use the spot to overhear discussions about requests of mine, like when I would ask my parents if we could go to Great Adventure Amusement Park. After I had asked, I’d disappear from the room and then sneak around back and listen from the outside to hear them weighing their decision.
That evening, however, I sensed my father was not himself. His mood was scaring me. I could always tell when something was on his mind. He’d get quiet and stare off into space. I was sure something was wrong and was convinced it had to do with the gun and the murder outside his nightclub. I didn’t want to think that he might be involved.
“Go help your mom clean up,” my father told me at the end of dinner. I cleared the table, and then asked my father if he wanted to watch me ride Snowflake.
“No, I’ll come out later,” he said. “I’m just talking to the boys.”
Mom was in the kitchen when I snuck around to the outside of the porch and crawled into my hiding spot. My back was against the wall and I was sitting, “Indian-style,” listening. I’d never done that before, listening in on one of my father’s conversations with his friends. But I wanted to know what was going on.
“Paul’s hot over this,” I heard one of the guy’s say. I knew they were probably talking about Paul Castellano. He was Dad’s boss in the construction business, or so I thought.
“Well I had to do what I had to do,” I heard my father say. “Fuck Paul. If we have to go to war, that’s what we have to do.”
War? What was my father talking about?
I heard Uncle Eddie interrupt. “I told you we shouldn’t have done this.”
“All right, Eddie, stop with your whining,” Dad snapped.
Something was definitely wrong. My father could be in trouble. I was sure it had to do with what had happened the night I’d seen him with the revolver. I was starting to put the pieces together. After I had seen him with the gun, I found out that the guy who was buying his nightclub had been murdered, and now my father was saying that he “did what he had to do.” I started thinking of all the things I’d seen and heard over the years that hadn’t made sense, like the time when I was six and found the gun under his mattress and him being out late and hanging out with people who looked different from my friends’ fathers. I wanted to stay and listen some more, but I was worried about being seen. I was also feeling guilty about hearing stuff that was clearly not meant for me to hear. I crawled away and went back into the house through the front door.
At that moment, my father walked back into the kitchen.
“I thought you were going riding,” he said.
“I’m not in the mood.” I could feel my father staring at me like he knew I had been listening.
“Are you okay?” He was looking at me weird.
“Yeah, why?”
“Let’s cut up some fruit and we’ll bring it out to the guys,” he smiled.
I watched him at the kitchen counter, carefully slicing the skin from the watermelon. Following him out to the porch, I continued to study him, observing how he was interacting with the guys. My father was at ease, talking and enjoying his dessert. He seemed back to his normal self. I was confused. Maybe I was just misreading him.
Later that evening, Dad and I walked out to the barn to turn out the lights. Snowflake was kicking at her stall, happy to see us. “You guys are going to go back to Staten Island for a couple of days,” he said.
“Why, I thought we were going to stay up here for the whole summer?”
“You are,” he smiled. “But you’re just gonna go back to Staten Island for a couple of days.”
I was back to thinking that something wasn’t right. What I’d just overheard, the gun, the man who just got shot outside Dad’s nightclub.
“Daddy, if you ever die, would we live up here on the farm?” I was beginning to feel a little frightened.
My father stood still. Turning to look at me, he asked, “Why would you ask that?”
“I don’t know. I just want to know if we’d live in Staten Island or come up to the farm to live.”
“Well, I don’t think you’re going to have to worry about that ’cause you’re stuck with me for a long time.”
I didn’t know there was a hit out on his life.
*   *   *
The next morning, Gerard and I came downstairs. We went out to the chicken coop to look for eggs for our breakfast. The hens laid brown eggs, which had taken me a while to get used to, but I grew to love them. We found two eggs, but broke one in the fight over who was carrying them. Mom said we’d have to use one from the refrigerator, but she wasn’t going to tell us who was getting which. Gerard and I loved our eggs sunny-side up, which we called “dunky” eggs because of the nice puddle of yolk to dunk our toast in.
By the time we got the egg issue straightened out, Dad was at the breakfast table acting normal. I was looking at him, not sure what to think. The night before something was definitely wrong, but he always just made everything seem like it was okay. I was too scared to ask any questions. My mom seemed a little preoccupied. When we left for Staten Island, she told my father, “I love you,” then hugged him in a way that was different. Because he was so calm, I wasn’t as nervous as I might have been otherwise. We went to the barn to feed my horse and say good-bye. I found Dad still in the kitchen and kissed him goodbye. “I’ll see you guys soon,” he said. Mom had a big, white percolator pot going on the stove, and Dad’s friends were outside on the back porch drinking coffee.
When we got back to Staten Island, a bunch of our friends were playing outside. Gerard and I jumped out of the car to join them, forgetting all about the disturbing situation back at the farm. I was so excited to see my friends. It was like nothing ever happened. Dad came back from Cream Ridge a couple of days later. I was so happy to see him, and I hugged him for an extra long time. I looked at him like nothing could ever happen to us, not with him to protect us. He seemed like his normal self again. He even called Gerard and me “kiddo.” After dinner, he told me that I needed to rub his head. One of our favorite routines when I wanted to stay up late was to rub his head, face, and shoulders. Normally, he pretended he had to bribe me to rub his head, pay me. But this time I did it willingly, I was just so happy to see him. I was just so relieved.
I didn’t think about Frank Fiala at all. I was too young to grasp that murder was part of Dad’s job description. I didn’t even know that Fiala’s murder was against the rules of the Mafia because it hadn’t been authorized by the boss, Paul Castellano. In that world, before you could commit murder, you had to make a case to the family capo. An unsanctioned murder usually cost you your life. Dad was in deep shit, but I didn’t know it. There was so much more I had yet to learn.

Copyright © 2012 by Karen Gravano with Lisa Pulitzer


Excerpted from Mob Daughter by Karen Gravano Copyright © 2012 by Karen Gravano. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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“Told with candor and swagger, befitting a daughter of Mafia royalty.”—Publishers Weekly

Meet the Author

KAREN GRAVANO was born in Brooklyn, New York. She is a star of the VH1 Reality TV show Mob Wives, about the day-to-day struggles family members are faced with after a loved one is sent to prison. She is also producing a movie based on her family's story and developing a scripted television series about her wild days living in New York City. Outside of the entertainment business, Karen is putting her experience as an esthetician and her love for skin care into developing her own line of products.
LISA PULITZER is a former correspondent for The New York Times. She is the author of more than a dozen non-fiction titles, including New York Times bestseller Stolen Innocence (with Elissa Wall) and Portrait of a Monster: Joran van der Sloot, a Murder in Peru, and the Natalee Holloway Mystery (with Cole Thompson.)

Customer Reviews

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Mob Daughter: The Mafia, Sammy "The Bull" Gravano, and Me! 3.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 163 reviews.
cupcakemc More than 1 year ago
The writing itself is awful. Very elementary, sounds like it was written by an 8th grader not an adult who had the help of a pro. Nothing seemed revolutionary in this book. I think over the years we've already learned all this. A book like this (or what it was hyped to be) should give us some new information. Seems to me that this lady loved "the life" when it provided her with everything she owned and then she hated it when it all came crashing down. Sorry but this was just a boring book.
HBKiki More than 1 year ago
I was so excited for this book to come out, I had even pre-ordered it. I was very disappointed. The book barely has a story, it just gives bits and pieces of her life with no details at all. Each paragraph is about 5 sentences and that's all you get for each topic. The writing is so elementary, it's hard to believe that an adult wrote it with the help of professionals. If you must read it, but it on sale and don't expect too much!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I didn't take much away from reading this book. The writing itself is elementary at best. Karen jumps around subjects and time periods so much that it's sometimes difficult to keep up with what she's trying to say. I can't understand how she had the help of professionals while writing this book. I can only assume that their goal was to bring Karen's own voice into the writing. Karen strikes me as an uneducated person. She has indeed endured a lot of pain, much of which was actually caused by herself not her father. Perhaps she simply needed to mature some more before she could see that. The editing team missed a lot of mistakes. Mispelled words, words used incorrectlt, etc. Karen doesn't really tell her audience much that they didn't already know. The only thing new is simply that she explains her feelings about the ordeals. She repeats herself constantly. She uses very short sentences a lot of the time, and very few descriptive words. I feel that Karen has finally learned how she feels, but doesn't yet know how to explain it. She describes a family full of thugs, criminals, and killers! However sad that is, one has to take responsibility for their own actions. It is not all Sammy's fault, though they seem to feel it is. Honestly, I don't recomend this book. The team hired to help Karen write this book should be ashamed of their work here! One can't really be blamed for their own ignorance, which is why I can't place the blame on Karen.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am so glad I did not buy this book, Do Not Waste Your Money... You can buy Most of the same chapters in 'Underboss'... Her Dad's Book... This book was copied and skipped around a lot to where most of the story did not even make sense. Keep your Money!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Im not sure where she was trying to go with this book...it was more like an 8th grade report for Career day than an intellectual behind the curtain look at the life of a "MOB DAUGHTER" . An Obvoius attempt at gaining the spotlight recognition she once had and clearly wants back. There was nothing new or compelling inside any of the 177 page toilet read. It was not witty or funny nor was it sad or scandellous. I watch the show, I know she had a writting coach.......ummmm...what happened?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is very boring and written very elementary. If you watch the show Mob Wives, they all act like they are 8th graders who dropped out of school. I stopped watching the show and read a friends copy- very glad I didn't spend any money on this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is a must read!!! karen is brutally honesty and very intriguing. I could not put it down. Amazing story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldnt put it down. It was a simple read, not too wordy, could have maybe used some more colorful words... but i was so intrigued by Karens perspective.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I find this book very interesting and try to keep an open mind. I am going to read other articles as well because this is only one side of the story. I must admit that it is truly amazing how strong these people are and how quickly they are able to come up and make things happen for themselves. I am definitly a fan of the Mob Wives show. I totally agree that family is everything. Only the Lord can judge us!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
wait till it hits the bargain bin to purchase...Boring!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldnt put it doen i became very intrigued about their lives. I cringed at certain things her father did but wow i cant believe everything thry went through.
Ilovemister More than 1 year ago
I thought this book was really good. It was from an actual daughter who lived through this. Diss to cupcakemc saying it was boring. What is your life like???? Sounds elementary? Well I suppose it was written by someone who didn't obtain a Harvard degree but I thought it was well written. We are all not Rhode Scholars. Are you??? I thought she did an excellent job. It made me understand a few things better about her arrest in Arizona. I am now going to read her father's book, Underboss. Can't wait. Great Job Karen!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
such an amazing read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I honestly enjoyed the book..it told her story of growing up in the Lifestyle ...I honestly don't get the reviews some people write about mispelled words etc..but hence themselve have a few mispelled words "Just Saying"...I loved it personally speaking and if they are any negative reviews they are probably not a fan of her...Or names not so important ..Congradulations on job well done and looking forward to future reads
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed the book! Good job Karen keep being a go getter (just like your father is) and keep God first! I can't wait for the movie and other books you may write! LTC
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Love the show and I love the book. Great job Karen!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Was an awesome book to read, and better understanding of what mob families have to go through due to one person's not so great decision in life! Fo any mob lovers this book is a must!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Save your money!!! Not worth it at all! So much that was said about this book on the show just made me want to read it and when I did it was such a dissapointment.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lord...I thought this book would be better. I have no idea why I thought that it would, but alas, I did. This is probably the most horrible book I have ever read a sample of and I'm glad it was just that...a sample. I'm glad I read the reviews before purchasing. I wouldn't have paid a dime for the book. I couldn't even get through the sample without cringing at how horribly it was put together. I would not pay the 11.99 their asking. Just saying...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Karen needs to stick to reality tv and leave the book writing to the professionals. The thoughts were all over the place and the book felt very juvenile. Love the show MOBWIVES and thought the book might be as entertaining.....Save your money on this one and use your library card in a few weeks!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a boring a book, really has no substance....the writing is so simple and the topics jump around so much...in this book Karen tells about her father's life just as he did in his own book which is much better, read "The Underboss" and you'll find a better version of this book
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
BORING!!!!! Switches topics every few sentences. My 11 year old could have done a better job, very elementary. Karen Gravano should just stick to reality TV. Very dissapointed!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I got the book because it was on discount and I wanted to see if all her struggles writing the book were worth it. I bought it on a Friday and finished it on a Monday. I have to say I was very disappointed that the editors didn't catch the six or seven errors in words that were misspelled or used incorrectly, if it gets to a second edition, I hope they will be more diligent in correcting this mistake. It wasn't a bad read with the exception of the fact that it seemed rushed at the end of it all. It showed that Karen was selfish and that she is the reason along with her brother that her father is currently locked up. I liked the fact that she was somewhat woman enough to actually admit it. I hope she can actually make a legitimate living from here on out.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago