Becoming Italian

Through Family, Food, and Life in the South

Non-Fiction - Travel
309 Pages
Reviewed on 03/22/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

Becoming Italian: Through Family, Food, and Life in the South by Bret Thoman is a travel memoir that chronicles the author's life in Italy. Thoman weaves the intricate threads of an experience that began as a way to find himself through his heritage. In the time spent, this foundational pull evolved into a full-blown Italian passion, for better or for worse. Thoman's retelling is comprehensive, witty, and enlightening as he describes a variety of experiences, such as the many lessons he learned the hard way when it came to Italian dining etiquette, the moment he truly became Italian following the birth of his third son, Michael, in Acona, and the unofficial religion of Italy after Catholicism: soccer.

Becoming Italian is a fantastic compilation of personal stories that are easy to read and take mere moments to elicit a laugh. I am a British man who married an American, and it was she who left her home country to settle in mine. She might not have had to learn a new language but my goodness did I see some of her in Thoman's words. My favorite chapter is Bella Figura, which doesn't directly translate but, in essence, means a life with beauty. Thoman recalls how the Italian emphasis on beauty is applied to all things, including both the expected and unexpected. However, so too does everyday decorum, and a birthday party for his daughter with a 'smash cake' went down like a lead balloon with his wife and mother-in-law. The photographs add to Thoman's words and connect the reader visually. I loved this book and am so grateful Thoman is sharing la dolce vita with us.

Clare Russo-King

a fun, entertaining, personal look at Italy from someone who obviously knows the country well. Entertaining, knowledgeable, insider's look. A true we "laughed and cried" book.

Debby Giusti

In BECOMING ITALIAN: THROUGH FOOD, FAMILY, AND LIFE IN THE SOUTH, Bret Thoman provides a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the true nature of the Italian people in an endearing, humorous and sometimes self-deprecating style that had me running the gamut from laughter to tears. See Italy through Bret’s eyes and experience a firsthand account of how a guy from small town Georgia gets to know the country and its delightful people. Follow Bret from his initial European visit, to his eventual marriage to beautiful Katia and on to the adventurous life they forged together complete with a bevy of Italian relatives and a loveable matriarchal mother-in-law.

Ann G

Bret gives us glimpses into everyday life of the Italian people that most visitors don’t see.

Grace: We laughed, cried, fell in love

My wife (2nd generation Italian American) and I read it aloud to each other and WE LOVED IT! We laughed, we cried. It’s remarkable how many Southern Italian traditions have remained in her family, surviving their Americanization. Hearing your stories has left us hungrier to hear more and even more determined to plan our first visit to Italy.

Marlene C

full of fun stories of an American learning to live in Italy. I especially loved the information about meals/food and the importance in Italian culture. I've traveled to Italy quite a bit, but definitely learned some new tips for my next trip. And the stories of marrying into an Italian family are true gems. Loved it!

Andy Fricano

I was impressed with Bret Thoman's writing skills. He was spot on with every aspect of life in Southern Italy. I was born and raised in Sicily and concur with everything that the author aptly describes in every part of this book!
I would definitely recommend it, 5 STARS for sure.