Michikit Wednesday, February 26, 2014
About the book:
Join Angela Lanza as she experiences the tumultuous world of early 20th century Sicily and New York. Orphaned by the earthquake and powerful eruption of Mt. Etna in 1908, Angela is raised in the strict confines of an Italian convent. Through various twists of fate, she is married to a young Italian man whom she barely knows, then together with her spouse, immigrates to the U.S. This novel is an invitation to accompany the young Angela as she confronts the ephemeral nature of life on this planet and navigates the wide cultural gaps between pre-World War II Italy and the booming prosperity of dynamic young America. Author, artist, and teacher Carmela Cattuti created Between the Cracks as an homage to her great-aunt, who survived the earthquake and eruption of Mt. Etna and bravely left Sicily to start a new life in America.Where to buy: Amazon | Barnes&Noble | Bookdepository
Angela ran down the hot cobblestone street and fell, scrambled to her feet and ran, then fell again. She threw herself on the street and screamed a long scream that echoed off the ruins of the ancient churches. A timeless scream that would always and forever be heard.
Her city, Messina, was a massive graveyard. She searched for her family—her mother, sister and brother. She yelled their names into the air, into demolished houses. She screamed at bodies crushed or run through by fallen beams. Other bodies were caught between the open earth and the street. They were the souls in hell that she had seen in paintings, forever in agony, never at peace.
“Felicita, Felicita!” she shouted, pointing her face toward the sky so that her voice would ascend to heaven and God would hear her plea and have mercy. She lay still, her ear to the broiling ground. She thought she had heard the earth growl again, about to open and swallow her. It was a human moan. Looking up she saw a man impaled by a beam near one of the destroyed houses. He let out another moan. She slowly got up and walked over to him. Blood trickled from his mouth down his chin, his eyes were open and fixed.
“Signore, have you seen a small girl?” asked Angela in between gasps and tears. “She is only eight years old with dark hair and eyes?”
The man stared, unable to answer her question. He blinked and then his head fell to one side as if it were a brick that had been thrown. She felt hot liquid flow down her legs. It warmed her legs from the frigid air.
The earth began to tremble. The cobblestone street in front of the dead man separated and bodies once buried and lost began to ascend to heaven. She saw her mother rise to the heavens in a long, white dress, the dress in which she had been married many years ago.
“Mama, don’t leave me! Mama! I’m scared!”
Angela heard her words echo distantly off the ruins. She opened her mouth again to call after her mother but no sound came. She could still hear her voice echoing off the ruins of the buildings. Every time she tried to yell, no sound came out but the echoing voice became louder and louder.
She heard herself scream and woke up. Her legs were damp and stuck together with urine. She sat up in bed and squinted, trying to see the other beds in the large dormitory. Angela heard the rustling of nightclothes. A few of the girls stirred and rolled over.
She took a deep breath and dropped back in her bed. It had been three years since the eruption of Mt. Etna and the earthquake, yet she still had this nightmare. The same man was always hanging from a beam, her mother always ascending to heaven, and every time, she was asking for her sister.
Carmela Cattuti started her writing career as a journalist for the Somerville News in Boston, MA. After she finished her graduate work in English Literature from Boston College she began to write creatively and taught a journal writing course at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education As fate would have it, she felt compelled to write her great aunt's story. "Between the Cracks" has gone through several incarnations and will now become a trilogy. This is the first installment.