The Infinite Now
Fiora Vicente is only 15 when her parents die, just two of the millions of deaths from the 1918-1919 influenza outbreak. She’s left with an elderly gentleman who’s well-respected in their Italian-immigrant society. But as the daughter of a fortune-teller, Fiora is treated with suspicion and fear by others in the Philadelphia community. Frustrated and lonely, Fiora has trouble adjusting. When her mother’s old-world curtain casts an upside-down image from the street market across her room, Fiora soon learns the curtain holds magical powers. Yet this is America, a modern world with modern thinking, and Fiora’s plans involve a career—not becoming a wife and mother like her neighbors expect. Then she meets the village gauritrice, and everything begins to change, but are things changing for the better?
Tarquini uses words like a composer. Her word choices crescendo into sentences that read like majestic musical scores and artfully explore the angst, fears, and emotional struggles of a confused teenage girl. Fiora offers to help others, but her difficulties in being accepted are themes that resonate strongly even in today’s society. When faced with this, Fiora thoughtfully observes, “Superstitions… Stitched into the fabric of our society. Shaken out in times of crisis.”
At times, I was frustrated with Fiora’s headstrong personality, and near the end, she makes a choice that seems incongruent with her nature. Overall, though, this is a beautifully written book with heart, humor, and just enough magic to make things a bit dangerous. Unexpected and poignant: I recommend it.