My good friend, Michelle Fabio of Bleeding Espresso, who is now a managing editor at Gemelli Press recently asked me to if I wanted to read and review another book for them. I had already read and reviewed a book published by Gemelli Press, Beyond the Pasta by Mark Leslie, so I was excited to do another. Gemelli Press focuses on books written primarily about Italy and the Italian way of life. They are worth looking into.
Photo credit: Amazon.com
Now, onto my review of“Wrestling with The Devil” by Antonio Russo and Tonya Russo Hamilton . This book is a result of the stories Antonio would tell to his children and grandchildren about his life, always ending the stories with “do you want to see the scar?”. While I don’t know much about the sport of wrestling, I was piqued by the story of Antonio Russo because he came from Italy to the United States, alone, at age ten. I just had to read his story to find out what happened to him. Through-out the book, which is written in the first voice of Antonio by his daughter Tonya, he describes his almost idyllic life in Italy, which he was torn away from and sent to America, where he faced huge obstacles and challenges in this new country. He did not speak the language and felt out-of-place, even when living with various extended family members. I wanted to cry over some of his stories, especially when he is let down time and time again by the adults in his life, beginning with the crossing on the boat, alone and so young. How scared he must have been.
I found myself wanting to be both angry and feel sorry for his mother and why she had to send Antonio to America. I also felt those same mixed feelings towards his other family members who were to care for him.The letting down by adults seemed to remove any sense of worth Tony might have had. But Tony was able to overcome the hardships when he took an interest in wrestling where he was able to release all his emotional frustrations of his personal life through training and victory on the wrestling mat. He found a sense of worth which was missing in his life, the worth we get by the adults entrusted to care for us as children. Wrestling helped him to focus on his goals in life and saved him from going down the wrong path with the wrong friends. He also had a few wonderful coaches along the way to help him achieve his goals.
I love the mixture of wrestling stories along with his personal life stories. The brutal honesty about the difficulties and joys Tony and his family dealt with will keep you reading this attention-grabbing book. I read the book cover to cover over a few days’ time. I just couldn’t put it down. When I first sat down to read, I had kept reading until he shares the reason why he was sent to America alone at age ten. The first half of the book details his early life in Italy, which for me, was a joy to read. I am fascinated by life in a small town in Italy since that is the kind of life my grandparents had until they came to America in their twenties.
The only thing I found missing from the book was more details about his life after he found success in wrestling past high school. I wanted to know how he met his wife and more about his parents. I guess that is just my personal preference or maybe I am just nosy. In any case, there is much personal information shared for most readers. I enjoyed this book to the fullest.
If you like to read about Italian families, Italy in the 1940s, personal journeys to America, or are a fan of wrestling-this is a book for you. I know it can be purchased through the publisher or Amazon.com in both book and Kindle form.
I was given my copy of “Wrestling with The Devil” for the purpose of reading and writing this review. I was not compensated in any other form.