Fans of Adriana Trigiani have a new reason to rejoice with the publication of her latest gem, Kiss Carlo. Trigiani is adroit at depicting large families in all of their flawed, chaotic and dysfunctional glory, not without a strong undercurrent of love that prevents them from drowning, and the Castone family does not disappoint.
The story opens in 1949 and follows Nicky Castone, a twenty-something cab driver who had been orphaned as a young child and raised by his aunt and uncle in their large Italian family in South Philadelphia. Although he is very close with his family, and his cousins are like brothers to him, he has always felt a bit unanchored in life. He works for his family’s taxi company but, unbeknownst to his family and fiancée, Peachy, he begins working for a local theater company and gets bitten by the acting bug. It is there he meets Calla Borelli, who is desperately trying to save her father’s theatrical legacy.
There’s a lot going on in this book, resulting in storylines that seem to veer off course, but ultimately, the plot lines are intricately woven together, coming to a neat and tidy, satisfying resolution. The effects of a decades-old family rift between two families, the search for love, the search for family, and finding a place to belong are the themes that crop up most often.
Nicky is one of the most appealing and genuine characters that Trigiani has ever created. With authentic dialogue peppered with observations about human nature and over-the-top comedic situations, Kiss Carlo will likely appeal to her loyal fans as well as garner new ones.