I used to be the blogger called YAL Book Briefs, but I grew bored of the handle and changed my name to Howdy YAL. I also respond to MJ. I like to read, write, eat truffles, and watch bad Lifetime movies.
Disclaimer: I do not own Super Mario, Sonny Corinthos , Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, or Ben Sobel. They belong to Nintendo, General Hospital, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Analyze This. I am merely using them for reviewing this book which was provided by Netgalley. I am giving them, in return, a fair review.
Super Mario: Welcome, to Italia Generica! It's a me, your host.....Mario.
You people are acting like you don't know me.
Let's see maybe this help I like spaghetti, linguine, pizza, macaroni. Okay, I'm dating Princess Peach, you know me now.
I thought so.
Really, I don't know why I have to bring up the Peach. She doesn't do anything except hide in the most remotest of castles. How would you a like that Mushroom Guy telling you that you went to the wrong castle after you battle one of the Bowser decor?
It would suck much like this book which we're about to discuss on our talk show. Our book club is a made up of some honorary Italians. First since the book we're a going to read involves mobsters, I decided to get a mobster to come on the show. Only none of those big shot Hollywood Italian mobsters wanted to come here, so we're going to have to settle for Sonny Corinthos of General Hospital. Also, though not Italian themselves, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are also able to give a unique aspect of our culture in America. And a couple of other guests will be here too.
Welcome, all of you. What were your first impressions of Mafia Girl?
Sonny Corinthos: It doesn't involve the mob. And it reminded me of my daughter Christina when she wanted to have a show called Mob Princess. In other words, I wanted to throw my soap opera glass of whisky at someone.
Mario: And you, Turtles?
Turtles: It lacked pizza. And the Shredder. Therefore, it was boring.
Mario: I though tit lacked a villain too. But it had a romance. Though I have to say, that Peach dresses better.
Sonny: My dead girlfriend was a fashion magazine owner, she didn't talk about clothes thatmuch.
Mario: You emphasized the word that. Why?
Sonny: I'm annoyed, I enunciated everything that annoys me. Note, my voice now.
Mario: Have a cannoli.
Sonny: This book makes me not want a cannoli.
The audience gasps! How can anyone not want a sweet delicious cannoli.
Michelangelo: Dude, you're missing out. Mind if I take it.
Sonny: Shrugs. It's fine. My stereotypical Italian-American baby momma makes better cannolis anyway.
Mario: Yes, speaking of your baby momma how do you think she compares to Gia?
Sonny: Don't you ever. Ever. Compare Gia to Olivia again.
Mario: Okay, that was a lot of enunciating .
Sonny: You bet it was. If I ever saw my child acting like Gia,you could guarantee that they would be sent to boarding school and SOARS-ed beyond your very eyes. That's what I did to my daughter when she wanted to be on a mob reality show.
Mario: On that point, maybe we should bring in another special guest. I hired acclaimed mob psychiatrist, Ben Sobel, to analyze this girl. And Sonny, maybe he can help you with your enunciating issues. And Turtles, I don't know how he can help you. He helped me get over my anger issues about all those castles though.
Raphael: Dude, you're even worse than our friend, April, and she wears a yellow jumpsuit even though she's not in jail.
Mario: Turtles, why must you start every sentence with Dude? You originated in New York not in Full House California.
Ben: Uh, hum.
Mario: Oh yes, Ben, what did you think of Gia?
Ben: She has daddy issues, obviously. And honestly, I can't make out much more than that since she tends to go in weird offbeat tangents. It's almost a bit like stream of consciousness but not since plot threads will be dropped awhile then picked up. And I don't get what her attraction is to that cop.
Sonny: Forbidden love. They always do it on my soap. I usually get involved with an FBI agent once every two years or so.
Everyone (save for Sonny) nods their heads and grabs a cannoli.
Ben: I guess that explains that. But I really am confused with a lot of things about this girl. Like the fact that she has more chemistry with her asexual best friend (which is a prop to the novel, btw if would've been handled properly) than with the cop.
Sonny: He's not asexual. No one is asexual for long.
Mario: Maybe a true in the soap opera world, Sonny, but this is a YA novel.
Sonny: YA novels are like soap operas. There always has to be screwing or wannabe screwing.
Ben: He does have a point. Unfortunately, YA novels have a tendency to not show that people don't have to have a romantic relationship to succeed at life. Now, I think we should talk about culture. This show deals with generic Italian culture, and I think this book fits it perfectly. Before we dive further, what does the typical person think when they hear the word Italy.
Sonny: The Godfather.
Turtles: Pizza! Pizza! Pizza!
Ben: This is not a little Cesar's ad. Though, I could do with a pizza right now.
Turtles: We could too.
Mario: I'll call Luigi from Craft Services. See what he can do. Ben, what was the purpose of us doing this exercise?
Ben: It was to show generic tropes in Italian culture. Tropes that are exploited here. Blumenthal takes these tropes and amps them up. Italy is country that is complex and full a diverse group of people. The various regions in the country have different cultures. For example, Northern Italians culture is heavily influenced by its Alpine neighbors. From a culinary perspective alone, the food is very, very, different from what you see in the South. Based on what I read in the book, it appears like Gia's father is from the Northern part of Italy. Yet the culture that you see is clearly Southern influence.
Mario: So they eat pasta when they should be eating sausage, it wasn't that big of a deal.
Sonny: It. Is. A. Big. Deal.
Turtle: Dude, eat some pizza.
Sonny: No. It's totally a big deal. You get someone's culture wrong, you're not going to be able to take them seriously as a character. Culture influences a characters motivations since it often effects ones values growing up.
Ben: True. You bring up a good point. Which makes me want to bring up how mob culture was used in this book. The only time the mob is even mentioned is when Gia gets to pose for Vogueor to randomly add conflict with the cop guy as we discussed more. The lifestyle, didn't effect her other than that. Sonny, I think this would be a good time to tell us how your own kids' lives were influenced by the mob.
Sonny: Oh, you're going to blame me for the fact that I shot my eldest. My other son got shot in the head and in a coma for years because of me and eventually got raped in prison. My daughter was hoodwinked into marrying a mobster's son. And my youngest is sleeping with my newest rival who I'm pretty sure used to be a man named Julian Jerome or at least his sister if we really believe she's Kiki's mother.
Ben: Okay, see my point is proven.
Mario: What point?
Turtles: The mob effects people's lives, obviously. When's that pizza going to get here?
Mario: I need to call someone else from craft services. My brother is really off the ball today. Maybe he got stuck at one of those decoy castles. I feel like I need to play Bowser's advocate, there was one good point of the article. They mentioned me.
Ben: You really think that was a good thing considering that you're the epitome of generalized Italian. And we're not even going to start on all the grammar and formatting errors. Really, can't since it's an ARC and yes...what are you trying to say....
Mario: Um, it's me, Mario.
Sonny: That's it!
Ominous Music Occurs as Sonny pulls out a gun on Mario.
Mario: What did I do?
Sonny: You really think it's okay to have a book generalize everything because you're in it.
Mario: Well, yeah. Wouldn't you? I mean, don' t you generalize mob characters everywhere that's why I hired you to appear on the show?
Sonny sits down. A frown appears on that infamous "dimpled" face. He knows Mario is right. Fucking bastard.
Everyone on this show, save for Ben, is here as a stereotype. I thought if stereotypes explain stereotypes, people could understand them better.
Sonny: But, this book makes me so angry.
Ben: Most people when they get angry don't pull out a gun.
Turtles: Yeah, we use our turtle powers. Do you have turtle powers, Sonny?
Mario: That's a right, you have turtle powers. Why didn't you disarm him when he was pointing that thing at me.
Leonardo: Um, because you kind of deserved it. Reading about stereotypes sucks. And you kind of suck too. We can't help that we're stereotypes because we're the only talking turtles you get to see in this world. Well, with the exception of that Franklin kid. Sonny can't help being a stereotype because he's on a soap opera. You...well, Nintendo gets a break since you're their signature character. But this book should've been better. Blumenthal had so much to work with. Having a character who's dad is in the mafia could've allowed a lot of inward struggle for the protagonist. Here though, she was just a stereotype who really didn't even have much of a story save for forbidden love and a lame school presidential election. Now, where's the pizza.
Mario: Yes, uh, about that. Mushroom Guy... I think we're going to need to go to break folks because the turtles are hungry.