Moments in Flight: A Memoir

Brings the immigrant story full circle; recovers lost history; shares hard-earned practical wisdom

Non-Fiction - Memoir
234 Pages
Reviewed on 05/18/2022
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Author Biography

Jo-Ann Vega is a dynamic speaker with 30 years of experience presenting to academic, business, and community groups. A devotee journaling and long-time explorer of the depths in search of meaning, understanding, and connection, and identity, Jo-Ann lives with her life partner and canine companion.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Edith Wairimu for Readers' Favorite

Moments in Flight: A Memoir by Jo-Ann Vega traces her family’s history from her resilient and brave grandparents who emigrated from Italy to the U.S. and connects it to her own enlightening experiences. The memoir is divided into three sections. The first explores the backgrounds and brief histories of various family members including Vega's grandparents. It also includes Vega's memories of her early life living in the South Bronx in the 1950s. The second follows her young adult years, time in college, and her first work roles. The third contains other moving, more recent personal experiences and reflections on Vega’s life.

I loved the historical details in Moments in Flight which provide fascinating settings of her family’s experiences in Italy and in the U.S., and her personal experiences. I also found the journal entries and poems included to be raw and thought-provoking. I was inspired by her grandparents’ courage and Vega’s willingness to learn, go to college, and make a life for herself despite the gender barriers that existed at the time. I was moved by many experiences in the memoir and found many others to be heart-warming. Through its different sections, Moments in Flight by Jo-Ann Vega motivates its audience to reflect on their past and family history. It is an inspiring memoir with interesting historical information. It also beautifully captures the tenacity of many immigrants who left their countries in the hope of a better future for their families.

Bernadette Longu

Moments in Flight: A Memoir by Jo-Ann Vega takes the subjects of imbalance, inequality, and taboos and, with sensitivity to the living and dead, has revealed the imbalance and inequality that families impose on their children without really understanding how their actions, words, and thoughts can affect young minds all their lives. Jo-Ann brings to life the rules, regulations, and worldviews that we impose on our children or families by word, deed, action, distortion, and arbitrary ways. When a parent speaks and lays down the law, children listen and these words stay with them for life. The author takes the reader on a journey through the imbalanced and segregated life she lived and still lives within her famiglia. Jo-Ann shows an understanding of why, what, where, when, how and the reasons behind the famiglia’s strict ways and isolation within themselves, not admitting any outsiders unless absolutely necessary.

Moments in Flight: A Memoir by Jo-Ann Vega is an interesting read and readers find themself drawn into the world of famiglia and the battles that the author has to fight within herself to get to the point of acceptance as to who she is and her place in the famiglia, even though it would be hard for them to accept. I found it a very inspirational and thought-provoking read. I would have liked to know more about her life, but I respect the fact that Jo-Ann shows a wonderful understanding of and respect for her family and their ideals. I enjoyed reading this book and getting a glimpse into the life of Italian immigrants to the USA between 1880 to1920. Moments in Flight is a heartwarming book that catches the reader's attention and thoughts from the beginning to the end. It is a must-read from cover to cover. Thank you for an insightful read.

Susan van der Walt

In Moments in Flight, Jo-Ann Vega explores her heritage as a way to discover her identity. Her ancestors emigrated from southern Italy to America to escape the peasant life of poverty and having to work for the wealthy northern Italian landlords. They have brought their culture, cuisine, and belief in La Famiglia (family) and via vecchia (the old ways). Part of via vecchia is the perception of women's place in society - only eligible for primary education, and after that to be married and raise their children. Jo-Ann Vega found these beliefs too restrictive and went on to study and build a career for herself.

Jo-Ann Vega uses entries from four decades of journaling to reflect on her ancestors, various world events, TV shows, and books and how they shaped her into the woman she is today. She tells the stories of her maternal and parental ancestors. Most of them love gambling - something Jo-Ann Vega used as therapy during a challenging stage in her life. Many of them were also heavy smokers, causing their deaths from lung cancer. I love Jo-Ann's quotes at the beginning of every chapter and her free verse poems sprinkled throughout the book. Jo-Ann Vega is a woman who doesn't take things at face value but reflects on events, history, books, etc. to shape her worldview and the person she wants to be. Moments in Flight shows us a brave young woman, stretching the boundaries of limited beliefs regarding women's role in society and sexual preferences. She manages to build the life she wants, having a career and the female partner she loves.

Shawn La Torre for Story Circle Network

...a bold, sentimental, and at times frightening time capsule depicting what it's like as a first generation Italian American in New York City...a meaningful exploration of what it means to gradually discover one's interesting and deeply meaningful memoir. /moments-in-flight-a-memoir

Roger McCormack

Jo-Ann Vega has written a memoir as gritty and authentic as the saga of southern European immigration to New York City. She wonderfully recounts her immersion in the intense cultural and tribal world of southern Italians and the travail by which they carved out enclaves and a place for themselves in the tumultuous Bronx of the mid-twentieth century...prose is never dull...keen eye for historical and demographic change...Students of immigration, Italian-Americans, and The Bronx will be enriched by Ms. Vega's scintillating coming-of-age memoir.

Roger McCormack, Education Coordinator, the Bronx County Historical Society, "Review of Vega, Moments in Flight" 2021

Dr. Maria M. Vallejo

...the type of book that holds you hostage until the story ends...For Baby Boomers, like myself, it evokes an incredible visceral response, given that so many of us are children of immigrants or immigrants ourselves. It brings back fond and painful memories of trying to find 'our place' as we straddled two different worlds...It's an incredible psychological struggle...beautifully chronicles the different and painful stages we all experienced...while coming of age and finding 'our' voice. Vega has, through her prose, captured our imaginations and our hearts!

Dr. Maria M. Vallejo, Retired Provost & VP, Palm Beach State College

Terri Gregoretti

Both compelling and poignant, the author captures experiences and emotions duplicated in my own life growing up Italian in America...Beautifully documented memories, stories and personal poetry leave you wanting more.

Terri Gregoretti, OSDIA, Caesar Rodney Lodge

Dr. Mary Starke

...intersperses her personal experiences with observations about the momentous national and international events that occurred while she was growing up...the limited vocational opportunities afforded women at the time...the beginnings of the sexual revolution and Women's Liberation movements, race riots, the use of recreational drugs, the advent of the Beatles and so on...Against her parents' and grandparents' wishes, she became the first woman in her family to finish a four-year college degree.

Mary Starke, Ph.D, Professor of Clinical Psychology, Ramapo, College

Dr. Margaret Goodwin

From the very first page, Jo-Ann's artful autobiography, Moments in Flight: A Memoir, pulls the reader into the happy, sad, and surprising events that shaped her life. Her writing style is delightfully fast paced, honest, and filled with twists and turns that blend notable experiences into a fascinating story that keeps the reader wanting to know more...Beautiful work.

Margaret Goodwin, PhD

Earl Bryant

I really enjoyed the book...information regarding your culture which I never knew...I never thought about 'those' living between 148th-155th as being Italian. They were just 'White' and lived in the neighborhood.

Early Bryant, retired administrator

Judge, Writer's Digest Awards

This book is exemplary in its structure, organization, and pacing...voice and writing style. It has a unique voice, and the writing style is consistent throughout...A beautiful sense of the Italian culture and how that is both celebrated and preserved and how Vega and her family had moments of extreme difficulty in figuring out how to navigate life as immigrants.

Judge, 29th Annual Writer's Digest Self-Published Book Awards

PRIMO Magazine Review

Jo-Ann remembers her childhood in the 1950s Bronx, a time when Italians competed with Jews and Puerto Ricans as dominant groups in the borough...A superlative effort by a woman with deep affections for her family...writes with sensitivity and compassion.

PRIMO, For and About Italians, Vol. 23, #2, p. 60