I started my obsession with the mob because I watched a little show called 21 Jumpstreet. I loved the entire cast. However ½ of my favorite team left to become Edward Scissorhands and was replaced by Richard Greico. When the show was cancelled I avidly followed the rest of the cast in their careers watching Holly Robinson-Peete on Hanging with Mr. Cooper.
About the same time as all of this was going on I read a biography of Thelma Todd. “Hot Toddy”. Yes of the drink origins. One theories is that Charles “Lucky” Luciano had her killed.
Next came the first time I saw The Godfather, but if you follow the blog you know we have already done that!
So a little film called Mobsters came out and lo and behold it not only had Richard Greico in it but Lucky Luciano (bad movie I know but it is such a guilty pleasure.. come on Costas Mandylar, Richard Greico and Mc Dreamy all in one movie… sigh).
But I digress. It is now 1991.
What was the biggest mafia news of 1991. Sammy the Bull. To say I paid attention was an understatement. I am almost ashamed to admit that I had a school girl crush on this handsome powerful man. I was upset that he’d betrayed his oath, until I learned why. Then I was pissed at Gotti. I have remained pissed at Gotti. I mean after all the mafia is terrible yes but they kept things like drivebys and dealing to kids at a minimum in their neighborhoods. But I digress. I bought Sammy’s book. I watched the Paula Zahn interview but then, as Sammy wanted he faded into the background. And I cheered and respected him for it.
And I forgot.
Then VH1 put him and the mob right back into my living room with Mob Wives, another guilty, guilty pleasure. I even have 3 of them on my twitter feed. I am a HUGE fan of Karen, Renee and Drita. And in their own right because I had never heard of Lee or Renee’s father. Karen was Karen for me not Sammy the Bull’s daughter and that was cool.
Karen talked about her book for the entire series so I was excited when it finally came out. I read it with voracity and quickly. I loved it.
But our little review project Written By….. had not yet even become an idea for me. I naively know NOTHING about Goodreads (thank you my Where Writers and Authors Meet friends!) so I had nowhere to voice it.
When we began the book reviews one of the first books I downloaded to Audible (as I have said before work, school, single mom, author,… little time to read unfortunately) was Mob Daughter; especially since I had started to write a mafia tale of my own. (with women of course cause that’s what I do ).
The book didn’t disappoint the second time around. It was full of the mob life. From Sammy almost shooting Karen as she snuck back into the house, to him going on the lamb with the family in limbo, it’s all there. Karen was a princess, she had private schools, cars, her own business everything she could want.
The book also talks about the losses. Her Uncle, her father’s best friend, Paul Castellano. It talks about the threats to her and her family. Her brother’s near death experience everything. It shows Sammy as a caring wonderful father who just happens to be this monster for his day job. He was home every night. He was a family man. In fact it was being away from his family that brought him back from the run. He eventually went quietly to prison for the rest of his life for his family. (Which I have to say didn’t make the news here disappointingly)
It also deals with Karen’s feelings about her father the rat. It talks about life after that, and how she and her brother struggled for identity. How she struggled to find a truth after being taught a different way for so many years. How the family struggled after they were wrongly convicted (in their entirety) and lost everything the built AFTER Sammy left, nit just what they had while he was there. Everything.
Her candor, her heart and her New York banter make this book a great read. It is a different perspective on things. People often forget that there are victims on all sides. It is not just the actual victims and their families but also the criminal’s family as well. But Karen shows why she, and not just her father, have earned the nickname “The Bull”. She will always persevere and she will survive, probably a damn site better than you or I could too.
I have to say, that I am a Karen Gravano fan. I applaud her attempts at single motherhood and raising her nephew. I applaud her courage in saying here I am like it leave it. I applaud her for saying yep he’s a rat but he had his reasons, he’s my father I love him and here is why.
One Note: The book is an exciting read, but I was a bit let down in the narration of the audio book. Karen was nervous and it shows, but didn’t affect the book for me at all.
All in all, great read!