Sometimes healing finds you in the most unexpected places. For me, it was in the pages of a book about a mobster’s daughter.
I was excited to start reading it as soon as it arrived. I read the first three pages of the introduction…
And I had a total and complete meltdown.
I was completely unhinged for about three days. I hid the book from myself and refused to look at it for about three weeks.
What sent me so far over the edge? In this story of the mobster’s daughter, I saw myself. I saw my childhood. For the first time I understood with complete clarity that, in his own way, my father was the mobster that he sought to bring to justice.
Among other things, my father was a private investigator who spent many years tracking and investigating Whitey Bulger and the Winter Hill Gang. I’ve written a few times on this journal about weird episodes from my childhood. We couldn’t have stickers on our car because then the “bad guys” would be able to identify us. We couldn’t throw paper in the garbage because that’s how he got so much information about the “bad guys.” My clearest memory of spending “special time” with my dad was going out after my bedtime to record license plate numbers at a mobster hideout.
When my father died in 2000, a number of his fellow investigators told me at his memorial service that they were certain he had faked his death and had gone deep undercover on the Whitey Bulger case. Now I know that they were in denial, but I spent five years waiting for my father to reappear. In 2006 I finally ordered the autopsy photos to confirm for myself that he was gone.
In all those years, I only knew that the people he investigated were “the bad guys.” It seemed easy to classify them in that way – they lied, cheated, stole and killed. Knowing absolutely nothing else about them, it was easy to assume that that’s all they were.
Until I opened The Godfather’s Daughter…and realized that the mobsters also had daughters. Daughters who were just as scared of their fathers as I was of mine. Daughters who wanted their father’s love just as desperately as I wanted mine. Daughters who had to grow up and learn how to be their own person rather than their father’s daughter. Daughters who were just as innocent of their father’s misdoings as I was of my father’s.
It was like reading the other half of my childhood story. Although my father was purportedly the “good guy” and this woman’s father was purportedly the “bad guy,” they weren’t that different; they were both running from so many demons that they couldn’t really see their daughters.
A couple of years before he died, my father said to me, “I need to get out of this business because in order to investigate these guys I have to think like them and I feel myself turning into one of them.” I think it was one of the most insightful things he ever said.
Because of this book, I finally see that all of those years chasing the bad guys, my dad was really just chasing himself. Maybe he hoped that if he could bring them to justice, he’d finally be able to find peace in his own soul. I pray that wherever he is now, he has finally found peace.
As part of the Hay House blogger community, I have to write a book review of the book that’s appropriate to post on Amazon…and I’m thinking that the above probably isn’t it. :-) I’m not even sure where to start. But here goes…
Rita Gigante spent the first 16 years of her life in the dark about who and what her father was. But she knew enough to know that something was wrong. Panic attacks and obsessive compulsive traits haunted her days. When she finally learned the secret that her family had been keeping from her – that her father, Vincent Gigante, was the head of the five crime families in New York in the 80s – it was the start of a whole new chapter for her.
Gigante’s book is like three stories wrapped into one narrative. First, it’s the story of a young girl growing up in a deeply dysfunctional mob family. Second, it’s the story of a young woman struggling with her homosexuality in the face of a devoutly Catholic family. Third, it’s the story of a woman embracing her intuitive gifts to become a healer.
As the main focus of the book, the first thread is both the most compelling and the most successful. The second and third issues are an integral part of the story, but they get a little less air time and are thus somewhat less satisfying – I was left with the feeling that there were some important things that were being glossed over. However, given that the material is highly personal, potentially inflammatory, and (given the names involved) very public, it’s not something I can find any fault with.
As a tale of pain, recovery and redemption, I highly recommend this book.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Hay House Publishing for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.
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