Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Blog Tour Review: Forty Years in a Day by Mona Rodriguez and Dianne Vigorito

From the Back Cover:

Confession is good for the soul even after the soul has been claimed...

The story begins in Italy, 1900. After years of torment and neglect, Victoria and her four small children immigrate to Hell's Kitchen, New York, to escape her alcoholic, abusive husband. On the day they leave, he tragically dies, but she does not learn of his death for several years—a secret that puts many lives on hold.

Quickly, they realize America's streets are not paved with gold, and the limits of human faith and stamina are tested time and time again. Poverty, illness, death, kidnapping, and the reign of organized crime are just some of the crosses they bear.

Victoria's eldest son, Vincenzo, is the sole surviving member of the family and shares a gut-wrenching account of their lives with his daughter during a visit to Ellis Island on his ninetieth birthday. He explains how the lives of he and his siblings have been secretly intertwined with an infamous Irish mob boss and ends his unsettling disclosure with a monumental request that leaves Clare speechless.

Forty Years in a Day is layered with the struggles and successes of each family member and defines the character of an era. Follow the Montanaro family through several decades, and stand in the shoes of a past generation.

My Thoughts:

Forty Years in a Day is based on a true story and begins with a father-daughter outing to Ellis Island, where immigration exhibits spark memories, and the story of a family's tragic roots is finally told. The tale begins with the young, beautiful, and idealistic Victoria at the turn of the twentieth century and follows her as she flees Italy with her small children for a new beginning and a better life in America. Victoria quickly realizes how hard it is to make a home for her family in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of New York, but she finally finds her place, and though times are tough, her children have a loving, happy home to grow up in. The focus of the story shifts to each of her seven children along their paths to adulthood and highlights choices made (both good and bad), the whims of the human heart, the capacity of the soul to be by turns generously loving and relentlessly cruel, the senselessness of tragedy, and the joy of triumph.

Forty Years in a Day is a quick read, entertaining, with lots of ups and downs and dramatic moments as Victoria's children grow up and live their lives, but I felt as if the real "meat" of the story was missing. It covers a lot of time and a lot of people, and so the story naturally lends itself to more telling than showing. There's a good bit of exposition on what's happening in America and the rest of the world at the time, but no real connection is made to how it affects the family. There are some very interesting characters in the large cast, but they each only have a few moments to shine, so we never really get to know most of the characters beyond what we're told about them. It reads more like a narrative with some dialogue thrown in here and there, and what I love so much about historical fiction -- that deep emotional connection that links the characters and the experience of the times they lived in to me as the reader -- was mostly missing. While I thought the story lacked the depth I look for in a great historical fiction novel, I can still recommend it as a worthwhile read for shedding some light on the lives of the millions of people who came to America in search of something more, and the hardships and limitations they faced while reaching for their dreams.

My Rating:  3.5 Stars out of 5

Enter to win Forty Years in a Day!
I have two copies to give away to two of my lovely U.S. readers! Simply leave a comment on this review with your email address and you're entered.

This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only and ends at 11:59pm Tuesday, August 20, 2013. Winner will be selected at random.
Thanks, and good luck!

This giveaway is closed and the winner has been selected.
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Forty Years in a Day is on a blog tour!
Click here to view the full tour schedule.


  1. I am captivated with this review which is excellent and the wonderful feature. What a great giveaway. Thanks. saubleb(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. Thanks for this exceptional and fascinating giveaway. elliotbencan(at)hotmail(dot)com

  3. Forty Years in a Day sounds wonderful. Based on a true story it could almost be an actual memoir. I think it sounds like a wonderful book, please enter my name in the draw. carlscott(at)prodigy(dot)net(dot)mx

  4. I'm intrigued. Many of my own ancestors came through Ellis. Excellent review. tchevrestt(at)yahoo(dot)com

  5. I have heard great things about this book. Thanks for the review and the chance to win!

    lafra86 at gmail dot com

  6. Since a visit to Ellis Island about a year ago, I have been fascinated by stories of immigrant experiences. This book sounds wonderful. Thanks for the giveaway.

  7. This sounds like a book I might like to try! westmetromommy(at)gmail(dot)com.

  8. I think this would be an great book. Ellis Island is such an interesting place to see, and read about the experiences of individuals that walked through those doors, hoping for a better life.


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