A gentle autobiography in which the author's search for self often takes the form of a spiritual quest for goodness.
Fans of Merullo’s novel, Revere Beach Boulevard (1998), should be aware that this is not a continuation of that Italian underworld saga. Instead, it’s a memoir featuring a realistic and affectionate portrait of Revere Beach, a working-class town located five miles outside of Boston with a reputation for toughness and family loyalty similar to that of Brooklyn. The town figures prominently in the chapters of heartfelt, sentimental musings about Merullo’s second-generation Italian-American father, whose life was dictated by pride and discipline and whose gruff exterior masked the grief still felt for a first wife who died in childbirth. And Revere Beach remains an influence throughout the author's life, whether he’s undergoing humbling experiences at the elite Exeter Academy, driving a cab in Boston, studying in the former Soviet Union, serving as an idealistic Peace Corps volunteer in Micronesia, or vacationing with his family in Italy. At times, Merullo's ruminations seem a little too self-absorbed, but he comes across as a likable person whose struggles and identity crises are more accessible to the reader than those of most celebrities or historical figures. He goes full circle by visiting his grandmother's girlhood village in Italy, but his desire to travel, perhaps to escape for a little while, remains. “You follow the line of your particular fate,” he ultimately concludes, “a fate built partly on your soul's unique essence, and partly of your class and place and time.” Through precise dialogue and musical narration, Merullo creates a vivid word picture of sights, sounds, and emotions.
No mystery and no surprises here, but touching affirmation of the anchoring value of family and home.