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Friday, October 4, 2019

Love and Loyalty

I grew up in an Irish/Italian family where my mother (Italian) “ruled the roost” and my Father (Irish) spent most of their married life trying to appease and please her every whim. My brother, much older than I, was favored by Mom while Dad doted on me. For many, many years, I did not understand the dynamics until this week when I read Love & Loyalty: An Immigrant Italian Mom Raising Her Family of Twelve in the Shadow of a Mafia Crime, a true story of growing up Italian, by Josephine B. Pasquarello.

Josephine grew up in south, then southwest Philly, the tenth of twelve children of Italian immigrants. When she was six, Michael “Brownie” Pasquarello, her father, a produce grocer affiliated with the local Mafia, supposedly committed suicide. Or so Romania, her mother, led her and her siblings to believe. As her mother struggled through near poverty with great determination and fortitude to keep the family together and raise her children “properly”, Josephine silently lived with the guilt, angst, and pain of her father’s death for most of her life… Until, during her Uncle George's funeral, she finally learned the truth…

Two years ago, after many hours of research and much soul-searching, Josephine sat down and wrote the story of her courageous mother who fought through her overwhelming grief, toiling each day to provide a clean home and three meals a day for her bereft family… She writes of her own childhood and the many daily adventures she had with her four brothers and seven sisters; growing up Italian in a predominately Irish neighborhood. Learning the lessons of racial prejudice and the kindness of unquestioned acceptance. Having faith in others and belief in oneself. And, yes, with of these, it is a testament to miracles wrought by love and loyalty.

To say that I enjoyed reading Josephine’s memoirs is an understatement. I was so totally engrossed in her down-to-earth tell-it-like-it-is(was) fluid writing style, that I did nothing for two days but immerse myself in her life. Which was both an honor and a pleasure, considering her poignant subject matter. What made the read all the more rewarding was that I had watched a video of Josephine’s presentation at the local Library[1] and was so intrigued by her personality and her story, that I had to contacted her. After a very long phone conversation, I realized that she was a dear friend I had not known who now graces my life. So, all throughout her book, I heard her voice reading her insightful and wise words to me.

Now, while Josephine claims Love & Loyalty to be mostly a homage to her heroic mother (which it, and she, are), it is more of an autobiography with her mother as the main protagonist. It is also, in some respects, a true-life mystery as Josephine unfolds her father’s true fate. The writing is cleanly crisp and reminiscently cathartic as the author regales us with poignantly heart-gripping anecdotes, both funny and sad, of the trials and tribulations, happiness and joys inherent in growing up in the close-knit Pasquarello family. A family whose dynamics, as I said, to which, because of Josephine’s bold and beautiful book, I can now readily relate. And I hope that you will, too.   

Enjoy the read!

[1] Here’s the link: https://yhoo.it/2nnnjK0

5:19 pm edt          Comments

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June J. McInerney, the host of this Literary Blog, is an author, poet, and librettist. Her currently published works include a novel, a book of spiritual inspirations, two volumes of poetry, stories for children (of all ages) and a variety of children's musicals. Her titles include:
Colonial Theatre: A Novel of Phoenixville during the Roarin' 20s 
Phoenix Hose, Hook & Ladder: A Novel of Phoenixville during World War I
Columbia Hotel: A Novel of Phoenixville during the Early 1900s
the Schuylkill Monster: A Novel of Phoenixville in 1978
The Prisoner's Portrait: A Novel of Phoenxville during World War II
Rainbow in the Sky
Meditations for New Members

Adventures of Oreigh Ogglefont
The Basset Chronicles.
Cats of Nine Tales
Spinach Water: A Collection of Poems
Exodus Ending: A Collection of More Spiritual Poems

We Three Kings

Beauty and the Beast


Noah's Rainbow

Peter, Wolf, and Red Riding Hood



Originally from the New York metropolitan area, June currently lives near Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania with her constant and loving companions, FrankieBernard and Sebastian Cat. She is currently working on her sixth novel.

June's novels can be purchased at amazon.com, through Barnes and Noble,
at the Historical Society of the Phoenixville Area,
the Gateway Pharmacy in Phoenixvile, PA

For more information about her musicals, which are also available on amazon.com,