The Hester Street Kids
By Armando Minutoli
Katie (Katherine Burdino) is an Italian-American nurse in New York’s Little Italy . She meets Kevin Mandrell, a CIA agent and accomplished concert pianist with the Zurich Philharmonic, by chance, when Kevin finds himself wandering through the wrong neighborhood on the way to meet a CIA contact. Kevin is saved by a young boy, Billy, who has lost his parents. Billy takes Kevin to Katie’s home for safety. Katie and Kevin develop an instant attraction.
Katie and Kevin fall in love, but their romance is complicated by the mafia ties in Katie’s family. While growing up, Katie never knew that her father, an upstanding pharmacist, was behind so much illegal activity. However, after being taken into confidence by a concerned aunt, who grew up with her father, Katie comes to realize the unsettling depths of her father’s underworld connections, which began with his childhood on Hester Street (hence, the novels’s title -- The Hester Street Kids).
The Hester Street Kids is an enjoyable read about Italian American life in urban America in the 1950s. The author delves into the main characters’ culture and religion and how it has affected their everyday life. Some of the characters are enjoyable, others disgusting, some pitiable. The interactions among these various individuals makes for a great story filled with intrigue and suspense.
I recommend this book for anyone who is interested in a fiction novel with historically accurate descriptions of the culture of Italian Americans in the United States in the mid-20th century.