Life's Curves

When the Present Triggers the Past

Non-Fiction - Memoir
88 Pages
Reviewed on 09/24/2020
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Asher Syed for Readers' Favorite

Life's Curves: When the Present Triggers the Past by Celia A. Milano is a non-fiction memoir that chronicles the multi-faceted life of Francesca “Fran” Brizzi from her youth through to today. The return of Fran's childhood friend in late 2019 from a photoshoot in Italy sparks one of the first transatlantic homecomings as a result of COVID-19. Fran's childhood friend Irish sparks a reawakening in Fran that broadens her thoughts to the past as the present, and all it represents, tightens around everything else. Fran and Irish shared dreams of travel, adventure, and an exciting life, with plans that dwarfed their hometown and home life. As Fran peddles through her education, work, travel, and relationships there is one constant in her life, and that is Irish.

Life's Curves is a wonderful story that carefully threads together all the pieces of a woman's past. Celia A. Milano works her magic in Fran and Irish's story, two young women with much of the family flair that came with a 1960s upbringing, harking from diverse backgrounds and socioeconomic statuses of New York during that time. I enjoyed the dynamic of both girls who trust each other implicitly, and the bond that strengthens when for others it may have snapped clean. The descriptive elements, particularly on the scope of extensive travel and landscapes, were phenomenal, but it's Fran's heart and desire to help those around her that will have a lasting impact on me. The "Brush and Floss, So Doc C Doesn't Yell" that Fran spearheaded to serve the disenfranchised was as hilarious as it was uplifting. Fran and Irish are exactly the kind of women who people want to surround themselves with and I am grateful to have had them in my reading sphere for a pleasant couple of hours.

Jack Magnus

Life's Curves: When the Present Triggers the Past is a nonfiction memoir written by Celia A. Milano. As far as Fran was concerned, her best friend, Irish, was in Italy doing a photoshoot for her magazine. Irish, however, was not in Italy; she was in Manhattan. It was December 2019, and Irish and her crew had left Milan abruptly as word of a highly contagious disease was spreading throughout the world. Irish would be quarantining herself at the condo and had no intention of possibly infecting her best friend whose health was not all that strong, to begin with. But they could, and did, spend hours talking on the phone every day over the next two weeks. Irish became alarmed when one of the crew got sick. At that point, she asked her boss, Jason, what to do next. He told her to go home to Yonkers and stay indoors. She called Fran and told her about her plans, and warned her not to come to pick her up or go out for any reason. And of course, Fran hadn’t listened and had stocked Irish’s pantry and even put up her little Christmas tree. They had been friends for forever and had shared so many amazing experiences, and the long days spent indoors chatting on the phone seemed the perfect setting for remembering.

Celia A. Milano’s Life's Curves: When the Present Triggers the Past is a well-written and engaging story that merges the present-day pandemic reality of last Christmas with Fran and Irish’s memories beginning with Christmas, 1969. Milano’s story reads smoothly and easily and is told so well one often forgets that it’s a memoir and not fiction. Readers who grew up at the same time as the two friends, and in New York, will appreciate the ubiquitous feature of life that was Carvel ice cream. They’ll get somewhat of a thrill knowing Fran’s family knew Tom Carvel, and one of her summer jobs was working at a Carvel store making those treats most of us remember fondly. The highlight, however, is the story of the three-week trip to Europe which Fran’s father funds for the two girls. It’s a marvelous tale that shares so much of the author and her friend’s experiences abroad and their lives growing up in the latter part of the twentieth century. I had a grand time reading Life's Curves: When the Present Triggers the Past; it’s most highly recommended.

Emily-Jane Hills Orford

Life is full of unexpected twists and turns. In light of current world events, 2020 has definitely taught us how complex life can become. But, deep within, something that never changes is friendship and family. Fran is worried when her friend, Irish, returns suddenly from Italy. It’s the end of 2019 and there’s a mysterious global threat killing people in the thousands. Only, in the United States, the majority of the population has heard nothing of this threat. When one of Irish’s colleagues gets sick and then dies, the impact of this dilemma takes root and, struggling to comprehend the difficult situation all around them, these two best friends share precious memories from years growing up: the missed Beatles concert in 1966 at Shea Stadium, the European vacation of a lifetime and so much more.

Celia A. Milano’s creative nonfiction story, Life’s Curves: When the Present Triggers the Past is a vibrant and troubling account of how different life is in the year 2020. But, in spite of these troubling times, we all have memories, good and bad, of life before Covid, of a life of simple pleasures and what some might call normalcy. While the world around the two main characters, Fran and Irish, comes crashing down, the friendship remains intact and that’s a powerful but simple thing. While trouble ensues, illnesses, and deaths in the thousands, riots, and unsettled communities, it’s the simplicity of a past life, of the memories, that carries these two characters forward. The author writes with the flair of a passionate literary fiction author in a form that crosses between memoir and creative nonfiction. A very current, relevant, and yet sadly troubling story.