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Reviewed by Gisela Dixon for Readers' Favorite
Gemini Joe by Janet Sierzant is a memoir on the life and family of her father, Joe, referred to as Gemini Joe. It is set in the earlier parts of the 20th century mainly in and around Brooklyn, NY. After a long estrangement with her father, Janet connects with him in his old age and convinces him to record his life memories or stories. The story takes us through the very early parts of the century when Italian immigrants were coming to the New World.
Born in the time of the Great Depression of the 1920s and 1930s, Joe takes us through his childhood, where he, being the youngest child, always seems to be overshadowed by his older siblings and family. He describes their games, the Italian culture in their home and society in the area of New York where they lived, the siblings and their relationships with each other, his own jobs, marriage, and children, his wonderful handyman skills and craft, his alcohol addiction, his health issues, estrangement from his children, and living in a mobile home with a dog towards the end of his life, while at peace with his world for the most part.
I loved reading Gemini Joe: Memoirs of Brooklyn and it had my attention right from the beginning to the end. It is a simple story of an ordinary life, but that is precisely what makes it special. I enjoyed reading about all of the day-to-day life in their household with the big Italian dinners, fishing, sports, daily life, their connection with what is known as “the Mafia,” and so much more. Janet is able to write as a silent observer and this to her credit because the narrative genuinely feels like Joe talking to the reader and, at times, to his daughter. It’s a very engaging and well-written book and probably one of my favorite memoirs I have read in a long time!