Never Tell Our Business To Strangers

I'm not really sure how Jennifer Mascia's book, Never Tell Our Business to Strangers appeared on my radar. Maybe it was an email. Or it could have been in my feeds. I figured that a memoir of a childhood on the lam with your parents could be interesting. Unfortunately, that wasn't the book I read.

Mascia grew up on the lam, she just didn't know it. It was just the tip of the iceberg of things that she did not know about her family. Her father was a charismatic man. People loved him and respected him, but they also sometimes feared him. Growing up she thought that Frank and Johnny were the same name because her mother called her father Johnny at home and Frank in public. At one point she was told that she could stop using a last name that they had been using. She watched her father get arrested as a child. She had much older sisters and brothers had she hadn't met for years. They moved frequently. They burned through credit cards using false social security numbers.

It was only as an adult that Mascia really learned what everyone in her family already knew. Her father had done time in jail for murder before she was born. He was connected to New York city mobsters (though not a "made man" himself). Her mother knew and did not tell her. Her mother didn't tell her a lot of things. But after her father's death and as her mother battled cancer Mascia finds out some more truths about her father from her mother, things that not even their family knew.

When I started reading Never Tell Our Business to Strangers I though that it was going to be about her life on the lam. It wasn't. I felt a little...mislead. It's not so much about life on the run or life on the edges of the mob but more a memoir of extended adolescence and finding out who your parents really are. It's not a bad memoir, it just wasn't what I thought it would be (or what it was advertised to be) and that skewed my opinion of it. While I got through the book fairly quickly it was in part because I was waiting rather impatiently for the book that was advertised to begin. It didn't and I found that really frustrating.

And that colours my whole opinion of the book. Can I say it was good? Not really. It wasn't particularly bad either. Sure it could have been edited down and it felt like it dragged toward the end. And you don't always feel the greatest sympathy for the author, but that's in part because she's both honest and raw in regards to her emotions and actions. She just simply isn't always likable. She's complex, as are the people in her life. As such, they aren't always likable.

Never Tell Our Business to Strangers wasn't the book I thought it was going to be, and not in a good way. I hate it when that happens.