Title: Family Man
Authors: Heidi Cullinan and Marie Sexton
Narrator: Colin Darcy
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Run Time: 7 hours and 40 minutes
At a Glance: This is a good story that needed more work. The narration is passable but not great. If you love either of the authors, you may want to buy this book to make a collection complete.
Reviewed By: Mike
Blurb: Sometimes family chooses you.
At 40, Vincent “Vinnie” Fierro is still afraid to admit he might be gay – even to himself. It’ll be a problem for his big, fat Italian family. Still, after three failed marriages, it’s getting harder to ignore what he really wants.
Vinnie attempts some self-exploration in Chicago’s Boystown bars, far from anyone who knows him. Naturally, he runs smack into someone from the neighborhood.
Between working two jobs, going to school, taking care of his grandmother, and dealing with his mother’s ongoing substance abuse, Trey Giles has little time for fun, let alone dating someone who swears he’s straight. Yet after one night of dancing cheek-to-cheek, Trey agrees to let Vinnie court him and see if he truly belongs on this side of the fence – though Trey intends to keep his virginity intact.
It seems like a solid plan, but nothing is simple when family is involved. When Vinnie’s family finds out about their relationship, the situation is sticky enough, but when Trey’s mother goes critical, Vinnie and Trey must decide whose happiness is most important – their families’ or their own.
Review: After a string of failed marriages and relationships with women, Vinnie Fierro finds himself toying with the idea he just might be gay. Not an easy thing when your family is neighborhood-famous and every member of that family is a larger than life personality—and none of them is even a little gay.
Trey Giles is a much younger but out man whose alcoholic mother has stunted his life at every turn. Trey’s loving but aging grandmother can only do so much to make his life easier. They are barely surviving, but the love they share and their joint effort to keep Trey’s mother sober keeps them very close.
This is a lovely story and it plays true. There is plenty of drama and pathos on the story, and a nearly forty-year-old man, just discovering his true sexuality, and a twenty-something virgin gay man can fall in love. Some of the story strains credulity, though. If you don’t know Chicago, some of the glaring errors about it can be overlooked. But MANY of these things could have been fixed with a basic Google search, a map, and some online info about the CTA’s L system. Note: going on a first date to the Shedd Aquarium on a Sunday at 3 pm says you hope the date ends quickly and the Red Line does not zig-zag through the city making stops at every intersection.
The story is set in a mythical “Little Italy” that seems to be geography-fluid throughout the book (it really takes me out of a story when things like geography, or the times that landmarks are open, are handled with less than proper care). But the real problem with the audio of this book is not the story. It’s the mistakes in choices the narrator has made that are the real problem. Not every Italian is from Brooklyn. The choice to play Vinnie as a “Guido” is a lazy one. But North Side Chicago Italian is not the same as Cicero/Berwyn Italian, or Lake Villa Italian, or Tinley Park Italian. Playing Vinnie’s family too lightly makes them seem more caricatures than actual people. Not to mention Vinnie’s mother seems to hail from Larchmont, New York, rather than from somewhere near Taylor and Ogden in Chicago. There’s even an obligatory gay cousin who is ostracized but suffers it nobly. We never get his full story, only third-hand accounts, which leave you wondering how he puts up with the obvious derision he suffers, yet he keeps coming back for more.
Trey and his family are such a lovely change from the Fierro cartoon. They are not played for laughs. They have real feelings, their tragedies are believable, and the way they handle them is human if not perfect.
This is a good story that needed more work. The narration is passable but not great. If you love either of the authors, you may want to buy this book to make a collection complete. Otherwise, wait until it goes on sale.
You can buy Family Man here:
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