Published August 16, 2011
Trade Paperback, 304 pages
How to Love an American Man is a memoir covering one-year in the life of Kristine Gasbarre, a young freelance writer who learns life lessons about love from her grandmother. This was a touching and refreshing read and I really enjoyed it for several reasons.
First off, both Kristine and I are of Italian origin with relatives in Rome and Abruzzo! So I easily related to her experiences in Rome (I've been there several times), her get-togethers with a slew of cousins, aunts and uncles, the Italian meals, the family traditions, and even the death of her grandfather when all her close relatives rallied together and then cried together, reminding me of when my own matriarch grandmother passed and we all cried together, cousins, uncles and aunts. That scene had me in tears. Like Kristine, it was the first time I had seen my uncles cry and it drew me closer to them.
As much as it resembles a romance novel, Kristine's focus is on the mistakes she's made when searching for love and her awakening to what is missing in her life—self-respect and love for her own inner beauty first. Returning home from a one-year working stint in Rome and helping her grandmother after the loss of her grandfather, Kristine discovers more than ever the strong bonds of family relationships and the value of old-fashioned morals.
I loved her Grandma Gloria—a strong woman who was proud of her sixty-year marriage, her femininity, and the choices she made and accepted in life. It was two generations coming together and learning from one another. Kristine is candid about her life and the two men she grappled with. It was satisfying to see her transformation in her approach to dating. Although she was a church-going girl, she discloses about her promiscuity and heavy social drinking, which the reader comes to see as her inadequate way of dealing with feelings of low self-worth.
Young women today can relate to these feelings and learn from the beautiful gems of wisdom doled out lovingly from a grandmother who loves her granddaughter and is able to see her worth and beauty. Makes us all wish we had such a grandmother! It most certainly made me miss my own grandmother who I loved spending time with in my youth. She was the one who got all excited about my prom and wanted to see the shoes and dress I had bought. She was the one who bought my favorite ice cream and snuggled with me on the couch as we watched our favorite TV show. My teen years were blessed with her in it and reading this memoir brought back these many memories for me.
Kristine writes with wit and humour. Her memoir is fun to read and toward the end it became suspenseful as I wanted to know how it would all end. This is a satisfying and memorable read, with a good taste of American Italian life.
Note: This book contains some light profanity.
I will count this book toward the following challenges: Italy in Books Challenge, TwentyEleven Challenge (After reading the review of this book on Write Meg! I knew I wanted to read it so I nabbed it when I saw it on TLC Book Tours.)
GIVEAWAY ALERT: Yes, I will be giving away one copy of this book from Sept 1-7 during the Back to the Books Giveaway Hop. Watch out for it!
Kristine Gasbarre lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is a celebrity interviewer and a culture and lifestyle contributor to women’s publications. She is a graduate of John Carroll University in Cleveland, Ohio, and Fordham University in New York City, with degrees in psychology and media studies. Her last name is pronounced the Italian way, except in her hometown, where it rhymes with “raspberry.”
Find out more about Kristine at her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Twitter. Follow her TLC Book Tour.