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Tempting Faith Di Napoli [Paperback]

Lisa Gabriele
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 10 2003
“Our house, in Little Italy, shared a wall with the Rossis’ next door, and our clothesline connected with the Pilettis’ behind us. My mother used to say that if one of the neighbours’ houses was swallowed up by hell, we would all be pulled down with them.”

Smart, witty, and emotionally generous, Tempting Faith DiNapoli is first-time novelist Lisa Gabriele’s alternately wrenching and funny coming-of-age story about a girl who is born with a powerful faith — a faith that is sorely tested across the difficult years of her childhood and adolescence.

Bewildered by her lot as the daughter in a fundamentally and often hilariously dysfunctional family, Faith genuinely wants to be a good Catholic girl. And she’s pretty sure Jesus loves her. Trouble is, she’s angry. Angry with her father for leaving, her mom for never going anywhere, and her siblings — just because they’re around. So Faith lies. She cheats and she steals. In fact, she breaks every commandment on the list, mostly by accident. And in the process, Faith finds herself increasingly torn between the girl she and Jesus want her to be, and the girl she just plain happens to be.

Lisa Gabriele writes with rare confidence and insight. Her sure-handed narrative hums along on the charged rhythms of Faith’s poignant quest for her own private happy ending. Charming, fresh, and big-hearted, Tempting Faith DiNapoli is a novel that will stay with readers long after the last page has been turned.

From the Hardcover edition.

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From Amazon

It's hard not to see Tempting Faith DiNapoli as a response to Alice Munro's Lives of Girls and Women. Both books recount the youth and adolescence of girls growing up in southwestern Ontario: their familial troubles, cultural awakenings, and tentative encounters with sex. While Munro's Del Jordan is a sprightly, liberated, intellectual postwar teenager, though, Gabriele's Faith DiNapoli is morose and troubled. Faith is the third of four children in a struggling working-class family, and she lives a sad, disjointed sort of life. The DiNapolis are uneasy about nearly everything--their marriage, their children, their Catholicism, their bank statements. Faith embraces all of her parents' worries and embellishes them with troubles of her own: a shoplifting habit, a fondness for booze and soft drugs, a painfully low sense of herself, a series of crises of faith, and, worst of all, a morbid redneck sexuality in which intercourse is synonymous with date rape.

Gabriele's account of Faith's childhood is the strongest part of Tempting Faith DiNapoli--she has a keen eye for the kind of cultural detritus that can perfectly encapsulate a character. Once she moves into Faith's teenage years, however, the novel loses much of its momentum. That may be inevitable, since Faith leads a chaotic, aimless, almost shapeless life, and Gabriele's only fault lies in following this form too closely, leaving readers longing for the directed teenage rage of a book like Mary-Lou Zeitoun's 13. Tempting Faith DiNapoli is a promising debut, but Gabriele hasn't quite mastered the trick of keeping her readers enthralled by a life that even her protagonist isn't too crazy about. --Jack Illingworth --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Faith DiNapoli is the well-meaning eldest daughter of a dysfunctional Italian family living in 1970s Canada. With an absent father, three rambunctious siblings, and a mother who's trying to make the best of the life she's got instead of focusing on the life she wanted, young Faith takes it upon herself to assume religious responsibility and tries to be "good enough" to make up for the flaws of her whole family. She struggles between the person she is and the perfect one she wants to be, and it ultimately takes a test of faith for her to find self-acceptance and her place in the world. Gabriele, a Canadian Lifesize TV executive producer whose work has been published in the Washington Post and Nerve magazine, has written a poignant, memoir-style debut novel that is emotionally intense and ultimately satisfying. Recommended for public libraries. Amy Brozio-Andrews, Albany P.L., NY
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My Favourite Book In A Long Time July 18 2002
By Beth R.
I bought this on recommendation from a friend and I have to say it's one of my favourite books ever. I loved it more than Cure For Death By Lightening which I just adore. The Dinapolis are so recognizable to me as a real, real family, I laughed along with them, then in turn, I cried for them. Ms. Gabriele is a national treasure for writing such a pure and honest book about growing up the way she did. I felt like I was there with them, in some intance I could hear their voices. (I know, I am Italian (half) and from London, Ont. so I am biased, but still.) Thank you for this book. Grazie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A beautiful book Sept. 1 2002
This was one of the best books I have ever read. Equally heartbreaking, and hilarious. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to feel what it is like to be in a REAL family, with real dilemmas, and real love. This family, as disfunctional as they were, really loved eachother, were truly close in every way. I adored each and every one of them. This was a wonderful book, it will make you laugh and cry, and the characters remain in my heart long after the last page is turned. I loved it!!!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars funny, touching and heartwarming Aug. 22 2002
By Jan
I loved this book, bought it because of an excerpt in the National Post that made me want to read more. So many of the experiences of the members of this family brought back memories of growing up in the same area where the book took place. Such a wacky, dysfunctional family, but some of the characters seemed so real,I actually laughed out loud through parts, and could have cried at others.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars loved this---despite Dec 18 2002
I usually don't go for "coming of age" books, but this one had a kind of nerve. I don't know how to describe it but it felt "new". I have reviewed books on this site, but none like this which is a good thing, I think. So I give it full stars because it reminded me of me, sure, most coming of ages books do that well. But why this book soars is the weird energy of the thing. It's frankly different, that's all I can say. It made me laugh out loud in surprising places. When Faith's losing her virginity, accidentally, to a middle aged black woman, I had to remind myself what I was reading, and then laugh, which, really, was something I had never read before. I'm still astonished. What a writer!! I need more. Another new thing. I'm from Brandon. I missed the line to tell you that, so that's where I'm from, a teacher. Anyway. I want my student to read this. It's wonderful.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Front and centre on my bookshelf Jan. 18 2011
This is one of my favourite books by far. I always have been an avid reader and the first time I read this book was about five years ago. Since then I think I've bought every single copy of this book I can find in hard cover and given it away as gifts.

This story will make you laugh, cry and examine parts of your own life to make sure you are happy and fulfilled.
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