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Stella Fortuna's brushes with death began in a poor mountain town in Calabria where she was born in 1920. She was named for a sister who had died in childhood. Her father had left for America to make his fortune and returned home only occasionally. A sibling arrived nine months after one of his visits. Stella was a smart, beautiful, standoffish girl who fiercely protected her younger, slower sister. She never wanted to marry after witnessing her father's brutality. When Stella was nineteen, her father decided to take the family to America where he expected her to fulfill the traditional role of women at that time. Her brushes with death continued. Grames writes beautifully and her descriptions of life and her portrayals of people in a large extended Italian family in America at that period are fascinating. A wonderful story told with gusto and love that doesn't sugarcoat the lives of either women or men. ~ Reviewed by Sarah Knight