Three Dreamers: A Memoir of Family

by Lorenzo Carcaterra

The #1 New York Times bestselling author of Sleepers offers a heartfelt homage to the women who taught him courage, kindness, and the power of storytelling: his mother, his grandmother, and his late wife.

At sixty-six, Lorenzo Carcaterra finds it easier to reflect on the past than ruminate on the future. “By the time you reach my age,” he writes, “you have witnessed too much loss to not be aware of what lies ahead.” This turn to the past inspired a poignant memoir about the women who made him the man he is today.

His Italian grandmother, Nonna Maria, gave him his first taste of a loving home during the summers he spent with her as a teenager on Ischia, an island off the coast of Naples. With her kindness, her humor, and the same formidable strength she employed to make secret trips for food when the Nazis occupied Ischia during World War II, she instilled in him the importance of community, providing shelter for a boy whose home life was difficult.

His mother, Raffaela, dealt with daily hardships: a loveless and abusive marriage, the burden of debt, and a life of dread. Though the lessons she taught were harsh, they would drive Lorenzo from the world they shared to the better one she always prayed he would find.

The third woman is his wife, Susan, a gifted editor and his professional champion. Their marriage lasted three decades before her death from lung cancer in 2013. While their upbringings were wildly different, their love and friendship never wavered—and neither did her faith in Lorenzo’s talent and potential as a writer.

Standing with his children near Nonna Maria’s grave on a recent trip to Ischia, Lorenzo realized how much of his life has been shaped by the women who taught him how to look for joy and overcome sorrow. This book is his tribute to them.

My thoughts: What a beautiful story as Lorenzo Carcaterra honors the loving women in his life with this memoir. I never realized what a life he had very early growing up in New York City. It was so enjoyable learning about the 7 years that he spent summers back in Ischia, Italy getting to know and learn all about his Nonna Maria. As he gradually discovers her heroic deeds during the war, through stories told by people on the island, a huge respect grows for this fabulous lady. She would never be so bold as to talk about herself, she prefers to remain quiet, calmly sipping her espresso, strong, with lots of sugar.

The next woman is his mother, Raffaella. He’s much more familiar with her life, since he grew up in it and suffered along with her. His father became their common enemy as he made their life a long, slow, living hell. Which is why Raffaella sought to send Lorenzo off to Ischia for summers in his teens, so he could see a different kind of life. To find for himself that things are not all misery and debt. And the third woman is Lorenzo’s wife Susan, who stayed by his side and believed in him and his talent. If you enjoy memoirs, and this author’s work, you might want to check this book out. I’m glad I did. I’d begun to forget how good a writer he is. Advance electronic review copy was provided by NetGalley, author Lorenzo Carcaterra, and the publisher.

Three Dreamers

Publisher: Ballantine Books – 240 pages
Published: Apr 27th, 2021
My rating: 4/5 STARS

About the author– Lorenzo Carcaterra is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Safe Place,  Sleepers,  Apaches,  Gangster,  Street Boys,  Paradise City,  Chasers,  Midnight Angels, The Wolf, Tin Badges, and Payback. He is a former writer/producer for Law & Order and has written for National Geographic Traveler, The New York Times Magazine, Details, and Maxim. He lives in New York City and is at work on his next novel.

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