Children of Italy

Written by Christine Simolke
Review by Jo Ann Butler

It’s a story as old as America: Luigi Falconi leaves his home and family in Italy to work in a West Virginia coal mine. It takes twelve years, but in 1924 he has finally saved enough money to bring his wife and three daughters over. However, in a story as old as mankind, Luigi took a lover to stave off loneliness in his wife’s absence. Now he must tell Isolde goodbye. Will she accept his regretful dismissal, or will Isolde fight to keep Luigi? The answer to the last question is “yes,” impacting the Falconi family in surprising fashion.

Luigi is not the only Falconi to be faced with choices. His daughter Giovanna is thirteen when she comes to America. She falls in love with a young shipman, but Alessandro is no mere crush; he loves her too, and vows that they will meet again. Years pass; letters keep the romance alive, but eventually Giovanna finds new love. Will she banish Alessandro from her heart to make room?

Christine Simolke’s insightful Children of Italy depicts a very personal tale – she is Luigi’s great-granddaughter. Family lore passed from her great-aunt Evalina and grandmother Giovanna is woven into a deeply felt, sweetly told historical novel. Ms. Simolke holds a master’s degree in English, and Children of Italy is her debut book. Both adults and YA who enjoy stories of perseverance and transformation should give it a try.