Dietrich’s exciting account of everyday wildlife while growing up will delight readers who are more familiar with the steel and concrete landscape of the island today, though the funny story of encountering an apple-stealing rat in their Wilde Avenue home the night after her wedding remains entirely contemporary. Such engaging details transport readers into the era-defining hardships the family endured, like lack of work and having to glue new soles onto worn shoes during the Depression, or the attack on Pearl Harbor three months after her wedding to Henry Dietrich. (A draft notice inevitably follows.) Also moving is Dietrich’s account of the premature birth of their firstborn, and Dietrich’s daily bus trips to nurse the infant at the hospital.
Dietrich’s photos serve as timestamp milestones for readers to visually experience these moments, including the couple on their wedding day, with Dietrich in a classic lace dress, and all their hopes pervading from youthful smiles. Dietrich’s family continued to grow, and the memoir captures the essence of their lives, loves, successes, celebrations, and the starting of families of their own. Through it all, Dietrich shares the things that fascinated her, from the gadget that allowed an aunt with a broken neck to read books, to a closing insight into how nature endlessly renews itself.
Takeaway: Touching memoir of life and love on Staten Island, from the 1920s to Covid-19.
Comparable Titles: George T. Wright’s Starting from Staten Island, T.H Watkins’s The Hungry Years.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A-