The Journal Gazette
Sunday, November 28, 2021 1:00 am

'Family' affairs

Female friends' Mafia-tied tale unfolds over decades

CHRISTY KELLER | The Journal Gazette

“There is no easy way to untangle what is Family and what is family.”

Sofia and Antonia. Antonia and Sofia. One name can't be mentioned without the other. Two best friends growing up in Brooklyn call themselves sisters as they navigate life growing up as daughters of the Mafia. After one of their fathers goes “missing,” they realize their own families can't escape the harsh grip of the “Family.”

Naomi Krupitsky's debut novel, “The Family,” presents itself as a Mafia story spanning three decades in New York, climaxing with the years surrounding World War II. Expecting a gritty, edgy narrative with violence sprinkled in (the stereotypical mobster lifestyle), the reader is tossed in a completely different direction when the book unfurls a coming-of-age journey detailing the ups and downs of a female friendship. 

As Sofia and Antonia grow from girls to women to wives to mothers, their friendship ebbs and flows. Sofia is a wild spark with the potential of catching fire at any moment; Antonia is reserved and cautious as they both try to find their places in the world – only to realize that once you're part of the “Family,” it's nearly impossible to leave.

Staying in the “Family” means they must either accept the happenings of organized crime or risk the consequences of speaking out against the very entity that provided for them their whole lives.

Krupitsky's descriptions of big Italian dinners, New York's sweltering summers and the bleakness of World War II were beautifully written but long-winded and excessive. The writing style is picturesque but so extensively so that it takes over and obliterates any kind of plot, bringing the pace to a screeching halt. The characters were thoroughly developed and fleshed out, but it becomes what is best described as character-focused instead of character-driven because of the lack of happenings. 

The potential for an intriguing and engrossing Mafia story in 1940s New York as seen through the eyes of women was palpable, but Krupitsky just didn't deliver. The characters were inspired, but even with that the story was dull and uneventful. A tale of female friendship that could have been happening in any time or place wasn't enough to engage readers.

Krupitsky's writing style has promise, but her lack of plot made “The Family” a slow, lackluster read.

Christy Keller is a page designer for The Journal Gazette.

Book facts

"The Family" by Naomi Krupitsky (Putnam) 356 pages, $27

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