Book Review: Cameron’s Quest by David Carraturo

33867544Title: Cameron’s Quest
Author: David Carraturo
Publisher: Self-Published
Pub Date: January 4, 2017
Format: Paperback
Pages: 252
Source: Author
Genre(s): YA, Coming-of-Age, Historical Fiction
Rating: ★★★★★
Goodreads || Buy on Amazon

Synopsis from Goodreads:

Tuckahoe’s “Golden Boy” Chris Cameron had his future all mapped out. He was the big fish in the small pond as a star athlete and academic standout. Off to the University of Texas to play football, he was on track to make his Italian-American mother and Irish father proud.

His two blood brothers chose different paths. Soon after high school, Sal Esposito and Tony Albanese were swept into the life of organized crime. Imposing figures, the pair assisted with strong-armed activities for their capo. Away from that life, Cameron periodically returned to his neighborhood roots to assist his blood brothers in retribution and risk his promising future to avenge violent threats to his lifelong bond.

Filled with suspense and character twists, Cameron’s Quest is set in the 1980s and relives a time when an Italian-American family’s Sunday dinner table was the only setting needed for therapy sessions, interrogations, judgment, and jury for any punishment. This novel reminisces about the Mets’ championship season, Reagonomics, John Gotti’s underworld reign, and the pop culture of the time.

My review:

I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for an honest review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

“You ain’t seen nothin’ yet,” an Italian man, straight out of The Godfather, informed the visiting scout.

If you know me well, you know that I’m a sucker for stories about families. More specifically, Mafia famiglie. The hierarchy, the lifestyle, the violence, fear and respect… it’s all fascinating to me.

In this case, our blood brothers come from caring, Irish and Italian-American homes who all run legitimate family businesses. There is so much love and respect between these family members that it warms my heart. This big family is filled with strong personalities that take up space on every page, and it goes without saying that big people can cause big problems.

The story spans over several years in the 1980s, so you really get a feel for the decade. I personally loved reading about a time that I (obviously) know very little about. I also really appreciated all of the care and research that must of went into this novel. Whether it was the political climate, sports statistics, or just the weather on any particular day, you could tell that Carraturo aimed to make this story as authentic as possible. And that, my friends, is the best part of Cameron’s Quest. It felt so unbelievably authentic. This is a real story about brothers falling out of line and falling back in. Blood over everything.

Plot-wise, this book tackles normal stuff like high school, family dinners, and football games. Then it hits you with the harsh reality of addictions and life debts and funerals. I don’t want to say anything else about the plot because I feel like that will spoil it for you. There’s quite a bit of violence and bloodshed but I found it to be strategically executed (and for the most part, well-deserved).

Because the story takes place over a few years, we really get to see the characters develop while Life is throwing all kind of shit in their way. There are good times and bad times and deadly times, but the Columbus Avenue Boys stick together through it all.

At its very core, Cameron’s Quest is about a group of boys who grow up, grow apart, and find their way back to each other as men.

I know (from personal experience) how hard it is to watch the people you love become swept up in addictions like narcotics or gambling. Even more heartbreaking is when you have to watch someone you love, living as a soldier for someone else. It’s terrifying and for the most part, inescapable. I found myself relating to these characters a lot more than I wanted to, but I still couldn’t stop reading it. On a related note, I could easily see this book play out as a movie, much like A Bronx Tale. It would be very cool to see on a screen.

Final thoughts: Every time the phone rings, I wonder if that’s the call that’s going to break my heart. And that’s kind of how I felt while reading this book. I didn’t want to hear the call that delivered the bad news but I listened anyway. The good news is, this book is worth reading. It might feel like a punch in the gut at some points, but you’ll finish it knowing that you survived. Life goes on. And it has a great ending.

[ Actual rating: 4.5 stars ]

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