From These Broken Streets

Written by Roland Merullo
Review by Franca Pelaccia

Naples, Italy, 1943: the Nazis have devastated the city but now plan to bomb the coastline so neither Allies nor supplies can enter and help the impoverished citizens. Against this backdrop, a resistance is born, made up of everyday Neapolitans, who have lost everything but refuse to lose their city and can’t wait for the arrival of any Allies. The characters are varied: Giuseppe, a young archivist who has drawn up a map of the city outlining the Nazis’ gun and supply depots. Lucia, his lover, tasked with covertly taking the map to Rita, a God-fearing prostitute, who will bring it to her brother, Marco, a monk in the Monastero di Genovese. An American soldier has infiltrated the monastery in order to secure information for the Allies’ push into Naples. In the mix is Aldo, Lucia’s father, a black marketeer in service to Zozo, the town’s black market/mafia leader, and Armando, an orphan boy, who will do anything to protect the people who give him food or money.

From These Broken Streets reminded me of the old “movies of the week” I enjoyed watching way back when: a fast-moving, intense, and plot-driven story filled with a large cast of colorful characters with their own motivations and histories, who eventually all come together. When they do, they resolve their internal conflicts, their communal fear, and the external battle of fighting off the Nazis on their own to regain control of their homes and become stronger. I felt for the characters and their struggles and celebrated their uprising with them. Inspired by a true uprising, From These Broken Streets is an entertaining and engaging read.