Sampler: In America by Nina Romano
May 26, 2020
A devastating family secret shakes her to her core and tests the boundaries of her love, loyalty, and faith.
Beautiful, headstrong Marcella Scimenti has the affection of a handsome neighborhood boy, the love of her large Italian family, and serious dreams of singing in Hollywood.
But the course of true love—nor the journey to finding one’s true self—never did run smooth.
In America follows the story of Marcella, the daughter of the characters at the center of Nina Romano’s continent-spanning Wayfarer Trilogy, as she comes of age in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, in the late 1920s.
In the trilogy’s heartwarming conclusion, Marcella must learn to balance new friendships, promising suitors, and life as a modern working girl with the expectations of her tradition-bound family, all against the backdrop of a looming economic depression and a changing world.
Along the way, she unearths a devastating family secret that shakes her to her core and tests the boundaries of her love, loyalty, and faith.
Sampler: In America
Perhaps falling in love was the thing I’d need in later life to settle down and maybe wasn’t going to happen for a long time, which was fine with me because what I truly wanted in life was to become a singer. My voice was not operatic, but I sure could belt out a tune. Of course, Mamma and Papa thought only loose women went on the stage to sing—or a professional, selling more than a song—this kind of “singer” my parents classified as a puttana.
But I’d been blessed. God had given me a gift—a great voice and I sang all over the place, especially in the bathtub, and especially, “I’m Forever Blowing Bubbles,” but also all the songs I heard in on the radio and in the movies. I sang on my way to school, sang at Mass, and sang walking down the street to go to the stores for Mamma. My favorite songs of the moment were “Marie,” “Singin’ in the Rain,” and of course, Eddie Cantor’s “Makin’ Whoopie, which naturally scandalized half the old folks in the neighborhood, including Mamma, when I left the windows open and sang at the top of my lungs, doing the Saturday cleaning and dusting. Mamma preferred “Tiptoe through the Tulips,” but Papa adored “Whoopee” when I sang it, not to mention, his favorite with the great beat, “Lullaby of Broadway.”
My hometown of Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, existed as a lovely little hamlet near the city. How I loved movies at the RKO Dyker Theater on 86th Street. How lucky to have a cinema in walking distance, and even luckier to have a Papa who always had spare change for me on Saturday. The movies were fun, but the music and songs were what I loved best. When Papa had something on his mind, was distracted or said I couldn’t go for whatever reason, I somehow managed to get him in a better humor and wangle him into giving me the two bits for a double feature. I’d say, “Just the entrance, Papa, I don’t need a nickel for candy.” He’d sigh, pinch my cheek and reach into his pants’ pocket and fork over the exact change and most times that extra nickel as well.
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