My Father's Daughter

From Rome to Sicily

Non-Fiction - Genealogy
296 Pages
Reviewed on 06/02/2017
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

Gilda Morina Syverson, author, poet, artist, educator and speaker, was born and raised in a large, Italian-American family in Syracuse, New York. Her heritage is the impetus for her memoir My Father’s Daughter, From Rome to Sicily. Gilda’s story was a Novello Literary Award Finalist, a 2015 Nominee for the Ragan Old North State Award for Nonfiction, a 2016 Nominee for Author of the Year for the Artist Guild Award, a 2016 Honorable Mention for the New England Book Festival, the 2017 Runner-Up for Autobiography in the Great Southeast Book Festival, and a Best Seller at Amazon.com. Gilda has been a long-time Memoir Instructor, including 15 years at Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina.

Gilda's award winning poems and prose have appeared in literary journals, magazines and anthologies in the United States and Canada. She is also the author of the full-length poetry book, Facing the Dragon, and the chapbook, In This Dream Everything Remains Inside. Her commentaries have been aired on WFAE, Charlotte, N.C.’s NPR public radio station.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Claudia Coffey for Readers' Favorite

Twice during the 1980s, Gilda Morina Syverson traveled to Italy in search of her parents’ roots. In October 2000, Gilda’s parents and husband, Stu, accompanied her. The journal that the author religiously kept now gives her readers the trip of a lifetime in My Father’s Daughter: From Rome to Sicily. Her father left Italy when he was 15 and had returned on numerous occasions including once as a soldier in World War II. Her mother was the first child born in America; her father had come from Italy six years earlier, her mother and oldest brother one year before she was born. Much of the story tells of the poignancy of retracing her father’s steps there when he was a young boy, juxtaposed with the writer’s memories from her earlier trips, and watching her mother “quietly watch the man she’s been living with for over 50 years as he moves through his childhood surroundings.” You see that the writer is just coming to terms with her parents as she “envisions her father as a little boy, playing in these narrow passages, like some of the young children we pass along the way.”

In My Father’s Daughter, Gilda Morina Syverson tells us what it was like to to attend a Papal Audience during the Catholic Church’s Jubilee year under Pope John Paul II. Then from Rome we travel via train and ferry from the Boot of Italy through the Straits of Messina to Sicily and the home villages of her father and of her mother’s people. Throughout our trip, we are part of the dynamics of this little quartet, and we see the happiness and friction of four very different people traveling together. The writer wants the trip to be absolutely perfect and we see disappointment and irritability when it is not. We learn of the differences and similarities between American and Sicilian customs. We amazingly see how family members a continent apart look and move alike. We read of the sad goodbyes at the end of the visit. And the food - the unbelievable food; like Stu, I would like the recipes too. Reading this delightful book makes me want to see the architecture highlighted by the soft October afternoon sun, and feel the ambiance of an October evening in Italy. For now, I will say thank you to the author for a vacation I truly enjoyed.

Diane Donovan, California Bookwatch

My Father's Daughter, From Rome to Sicily comes from a Novello Literary Award Finalist who blends a travelogue into a memoir, and is recommended for both memoir readers and any with an interest in Italy.

One might expect, from the book's title, the plethora of family trivia which brightens and personalizes the saga and provides more than a glimpse of personalities and family interactions; but what is less anticipated (and equally rich) is the exploration of not just family but the sights, sounds, and atmosphere of Italy.

Syverson took her elderly parents back home to visit the 'old country' after decades of living in America: their journey offers a rich set of first-person insights and experiences cemented by warm family relationships and a sense of place. If it's a travelogue alone that is desired, move on; but if it's a wide-ranging discussion of the heart of both Italian and family connections, then the richness of My Father's Daughter is a pleasure not to be missed, recommended for readers who want both personal observations and experiences and fun cultural interactions under one cover.