The book starts out with Lorenzo and his mother walking along an island beach in Naples. His mother tells him that she needs to tell him something very important about his father. She then tells him that his fathers first wife did not die of cancer, his father actually murdered his first wife. Lorenzo's mother then left him alone to think about what she had just told him. Before his mother told him about his father, Lorenzo adored his father and thought the world of him, but at that moment, Lorenzo hated his father. He did not know if he could believe what he had just heard.
Before his mother ever told him the truth about his father, Lorenzo had many great memories of his father. His father loved him and would do anything for him, and he told him that often. But Lorenzo could also remember his father beating his mother, hitting her in the face, and embarrassing her in public. Lorenzo's father also had many affairs. He slept with married women, widows, young women, and pretty much any women he could get to sleep with him. He racked up credit card bills buying appliances for men he was trying to impress, by buying women expensive dinners, and any other way that he could make himself out to be a great guy. Although he spent money he did not have on other families, his own family lived in run down apartments in the bad parts of town, and Lorenzo's mother often had to borrow money from neighbors to pay her bills, get Lorenzo's father out of debt, and she even had to borrow money to put food on the table. Lorenzo's father worked but not very often. If his mother would leave his father, his father would get a job and tell Lorenzo's mother that he had changed until he got her back, and soon enough he would turn back to his old ways.
Lorenzo's mother only married Lorenzo's father because he was her aunt's son. She thought that a man who was of the same blood as her father would take care of her. She had two children from a previous marriage, but the youngest one died from a hit on the head. Lorenzo's mother, Raffaela, was only sixteen when she met Lorenzo's father, Mario. The day they left Ischia, Mario told her that he had a daughter that lived with his wife's family. When Raffaela asked where his wife was, he told her that he killed her. That night, Mario beat Raffaela for brushing her hair over the sink. At that moment, she knew that by marrying Mario, she had made the biggest mistake of her life.
Lorenzo does not have very many good memories of his early childhood between his mother and father. He remembers his father taking him on dates with different women, and he remembers his father making him fight in street fights when he was as young as seven and eight years old. He remembers his mother crying and begging his father not to do this with their son, but his father would just laugh at her and walk out the door.
At one point, Lorenzo and his mother take a trip back to the country where Rafaela grew up. Lorenzo gets to meet his grandmother, his aunts, and many of his cousins. On the trip, Rafaela and her son get to spend a lot of time together, which they did not get to do in the United States because of Mario. Lorenzo also becomes very close to his grandmother and his cousins. When his mother tells him the truth about his father murdering his first wife, Lorenzo tries to convince his mother to stay in Ischia and live for the rest of their lives.
Read this book to find out what happens in Ischia, and if Lorenzo and his mother decide to return to the states or stay where they are. This book is very dramatic, and since it is a true story, you really feel for the young boy and his mother.