About The Other Side: Growing up Italian in America
The Other Side is a sensitive, candid portrait of an immigrant culture from a third-generation perspective. Vincent Panella portrays his family in Italian villages and American neighborhoods, and what emerges is a critical but loving view of the Italian-American experience: its cloying love, intense frugality, obsession with security, and its strong sense of family cohesion. He writes of his boyhood in Queens, New York, his father’s efforts to shape his life, and of the fact that “to be a member of an Italian family is never to be simply yourself.” The Other Side is also Vincent Panella’s personal journey, from rejection of his family to a realization that he cannot escape or deny his origins. This final recognition emerges after an extended visit to Italy, where he comes to know those in his family who remained behind. Thus Vincent Panella has written a book of journeys: a family’s journey from southern Italy to Hell’s Kitchen and the New York suburbs, a young man’s journey to a sense of identity. The story is given an added dimension by the author’s wife, Susan Sichel: Through her own photographs, and through her selection of photographs from family albums, Ms. Sichel further evokes the life and times of three generations of an immigrant family.