Thank Goliath

A Memoir About an Italian Mother, a Rebel Son, and Life's Noble Teacher

Non-Fiction - Memoir
320 Pages
Reviewed on 06/13/2023
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Luwi Nyakansaila for Readers' Favorite

Domenic Aversa narrates his emotional life journey in his memoir Thank Goliath. The author discusses his rebellious childhood in Canada with his poor Italian immigrant family. Domenic’s mother tried her best to keep him in line, but the constant discipline and harsh words caused him to be more rebellious. In his teen years, the author had a good-paying job, did well in school, and had a loving family, but he continued to steal, commit arson, drink alcohol, and race cars. He faced danger and tried to push himself into more life-threatening situations, but two events at the end of his high school year marked a turning point in his life. The author went to law school as a transformed man, but demons continued haunting him. He strived to change the world and his life by working with troubled kids, fighting for just causes, and being kind and generous. He built a successful trading and banking business, married the woman he loved, and almost lost his life. However, he discovered secrets that changed things and led him on a self-discovery journey to Mongolia and monasteries. Through all this, Domenic’s mother faced a health crisis that emotionally tested him and his entire family.

Thank Goliath is a book I will remember for years to come. Domenic Aversa’s honesty and vulnerability are present in every chapter, making me want to comfort him. The author addresses health, morality, childhood trauma, love, and parenting. Domenic’s relationship with his mother is the core of his story. I loved how they handled their suppressed issues and came to a healing point. The dialogue with his mother was heartwarming and hilarious. It brought a light note to the gut-wrenching moments. Domenic and his mother fighting for each other in the direst situations was beautiful. The author’s parents taught him to be determined and generous. His decision to go to Haiti after the earthquake showed that his parents had instilled these fundamental values in him despite his rebellious childhood. This book has taught me to be kind to others, to stand up for what is right, to fight for myself and my loved ones, and to Thank Goliath for all the tough times.

Joanne Ang

Thank Goliath is a memoir by Domenic Aversa that describes his journey to defeating the demons in his life. While Domenic was growing up, he was regarded as a juvenile delinquent. After his parents tired of his antics, he decided to take his future into his own hands and vowed to help children like himself. From training delinquent military cadets and managing abandoned and abused children, as well as helping fight HIV and AIDS, Domenic found ways to overcome the various hurdles that life presented. Unbeknownst to him, his mother was battling a disease of her own that led Domenic to face one of his biggest challenges yet.

Thank Goliath by Domenic Aversa is a glimpse into a tough start in life by an Italian immigrant family that is both heartfelt and inspiring. This is an intimate memoir beginning with his mother’s childhood and progressing to Domenic’s own life, and the struggles they faced as he grew up. I love how this book outlined the challenges of moving away from one family into a new environment and entering unknown territory, yet with perseverance, anyone can overcome even the most demanding situation. This book showed a mother and son dynamic that is not always sunshine and rainbows but is just as precious, regardless of what difficulties they faced together. One of my favorite parts is the conversation that the author had with his mother, which provided a deeper understanding of their relationship. The writing style is simple yet descriptive, moving the memoir along briskly without losing important details. Empathetic, emotional, and real, this is a book not to be missed.

Asher Syed

Thank Goliath is a memoir by Domenic Aversa which delves into the intricate dynamics of his relationship with Benedetta Aversa, his Italian mother. The narrative encapsulates the author's personal recollections and his mother's journey to America, commencing with Benedetta's birth in Italy and their subsequent relocation to Long Island, New York in 1958. Having later married and become a mother of two, including the author himself, Benedetta's approach to parenting and the challenges of her son's behavior during his formative years are unveiled. The memoir candidly reveals instances of heavy-handed physical discipline, punitive measures now unflinchingly called abuse that later in Aversa's life is determined to be the cause of serious mental health issues. Ultimately, the memoir transitions to Aversa's own journey to break the cycle, seeking out his own means of healing through sometimes unconventional but meaningful outlets.

Thank Goliath by Domenic Aversa is a wonderfully written memoir that is both profoundly honest in its frank accounting and Daedalian in its authentic portrayal of yesteryear's toxic parenting through a contemporary lens. As much as I enjoyed Aversa's representation of his youth while his mother was in his daily life, where I genuinely felt connected to him as more than a reader to an author, but as a person to another living human, was when he ventured into adulthood and focused on himself. I admit that normally this is not what one would expect when reading a memoir about a mother and son, but for me, it was the grown-up son finding his place in the world that just plain felt good. And when I say world, I do mean it literally. I don't know anyone who has ever been to Mongolia, and I'm Asian. So, there's that. The writing style is polished with a conversational quality to it, and there are some absolute gems that deserve pride of place on an embroidered pillow, like, “After years of trying to climb this mountain, it was now time to walk around it.” Overall this is a really good story of a mother who did the best she knew how and a son who became the best version of himself, and it's beautiful to read. Very highly recommended.

Foluso Falaye

As a child, Domenic Aversa was always involved in something chaotic—from stealing at church to staging a fake kidnapping and blowing up everything in sight. After his high school days in the 80s, Domenic immersed himself in various pursuits, including graduating from law school, overseeing 65 delinquent boys in a military program, joining the brightest of high-ranking Soviet Party members in Russia, starting an international business, and more. Unfortunately, he also had to deal with the challenging health problems that affected his mother for years. Fortunately, his tough childhood helped him develop the resilience and strength that improved his chances of surviving life's many hurdles. In Thank Goliath, Domenic Aversa's highly captivating and poignant memoir, he looks back at his trouble-filled childhood, his battle with health challenges, and his various exploits in business, law, and volunteerism.

Aversa's mother is such a strong, inspiring character since she didn't let her health challenges stop her from helping others. She filled her days with such kind acts as knitting for family, friends, and charitable groups. The author's vibrantly portrayed memories of his past are accompanied by his intelligent commentaries and thoughts that show he has gained the kind of wisdom that only comes with maturity, offering valuable insights to both the young and the old. Domenic reminisces growing up experiencing abusive disciplinary actions in an environment that mainly comprised Europeans who migrated to Canada after World War II. Ultimately, the stories in Thank Goliath are all expertly linked, and I found myself effortlessly connecting with the author. A beautiful mix of a strong narrator's voice and clear, organized writing makes for a smooth and enjoyable read. You should read this fantastic memoir about resilience, kindness, and healing!

K.C. Finn

Thank Goliath: A Memoir About an Italian Mother, a Rebel Son, and Life's Noble Teacher is a work of non-fiction in the memoir, cultural writing, and autobiography subgenres. It is best suited to the general adult reading audience and was penned by author Domenic Aversa. In the heartfelt, emotionally complex, and highly entertaining memoir, readers will be treated to the full gamut of emotions as we explore the life of the author. Growing up in Canada as the child of Italian immigrants, Domenic seeks adventure and creativity, directing his wayward energies into a series of immense projects to help people all over the world. That is until his mother’s failing health brings him home to an even bigger challenge.

Author Domenic Aversa shares his life story and his tender relationship with his mother so openly in this heartwarming work. I found this book to be a true testament to the unbelievable hardships life can throw at us and the journey of finding the strength within us to cope with them. The journey is one of constant growth and learning for Domenic, and he takes us from scene to scene in his life with a confident narrative and a through-line that helps you to connect the different threads together as the bigger picture of purpose, direction, and harmony in his life begins to form. I adored his portrayal of Benedetta and her strong resolve, making us just as attached to her as he is. Overall, I would wholeheartedly recommend Thank Goliath to fans of honest and immersive autobiographical writing about inner strength, determination, and family bonds.