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Never Tell Our Business to Strangers: A Memoir
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Never Tell Our Business to Strangers: A Memoir

2.88 of 5 stars 2.88  ·  rating details  ·  222 ratings  ·  59 reviews
When Jennifer Mascia is five years old, the FBI comes for her father. At that moment Jenny realizes that her family isn’t exactly normal. What follows are months of confusion marked by visits with her father through thick glass, talking to him over a telephone attached to the wall. She and her mother crisscross the country, from California to New York to Miami and back aga ...more
Hardcover, 400 pages
Published February 23rd 2010 by Villard
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Bookworm
Never Tell Our Business to Strangers is journalists Jennifer Mascia's memoir about growing up an only child who ends up finding out her parents were living a double life. Jennifer's father John Mascia, whom she thought was a carpet cleaner, was selling drugs, was associated with the mafia and at one time served prison time for murder. The first time the FBI came for her dad, Jennifer was just five years old. To calm her down, Jennifer was told that her dad was acting in a movie.

Her mom went from
...more
Sara
This is not a book for people who look to the Godfather and the Sopranos for cultural insight into Italian-Americans. Instead, this is a very well thought out book about a daughter coming to terms with her imperfect parents, largely after their deaths. By piecing together family conversations, and through her own research, Jennifer Mascia is able to understand her parents simply as adults rather than as her own mother and father.

A major strength - Mascia explains her grief at both parents' deat
...more
Cheryl
There are many memoirs currently available to read but how many people can say that their father was wanted by the FBI and who used to be a business associate with Joey Gallo, a big time mobster before the Gotti family. Author and nighttime news assistant of the New York Times, Jennifer Mascia calls this life.

When Jennifer was a little girl, she can remember a time when the FBI came to arrest her father right before Christmas. Jennifer asked her mother’s boss if this was real and her mother’s b
...more
Michelle
2.5 stars. Once again a memoir for which reviews and cover copy oversell certain aspects. I was expecting this to be about a unknowing girl plunked in the middle of Sopranos set; her parents are mobsters but she hasn't a clue. That is not this book. For the first 1/3-1/2 all I kept thinking was "this guy was nothing more than a con man." Think tax evasion, credit fraud, and identity theft. It was shades of Glass Castle but far less compelling. It does turn out the father is connected (as opposed ...more
Colleen
This true tale of one woman's childhood on the run from her parents' criminal activities is deeply personal and poignant in parts, though ultimately the narrative voice kept me from sinking completely into the story. Jennifer Mascia, whose life was shaped by the activities of her parents and a past she didn't learn about until after her father's death, is certainly exorcising her fair share of demons here, and rightfully so.

I definitely felt for the lonely child so caught up in her parents dram
...more
Jeffrey
This book has two running motifs: love and secrecy. These motifs are interconnected through a well thought-out and incredibly written story about a young girl turned woman and her struggles of figuring out of truth of her father's criminal past (being a drug dealer and a murderer on multiple accounts). When Mascia finally finds the answers, her life spirals and takes the rollercoaster on an emotional rollercoaster as they travel from sunny Orange County, California living the in the lap of luxur ...more
Deb
This started out as just another story of one more dysfunctional family in the US. The more I read this book, the more I became involved in the family dynamics and the love that evolved in this family. Thank you Jennifer Mascia for sharing your story with us. Even though your parents had their many issues, your book made enjoy being with your family. Growing up I thought my family was the only crazy family there was. In my 48 years of life, I've learned that many other families dealt with a lot ...more
Alissa
I'm not sure why I read this. It was recommended from somewhere and I can't remember where now which frustrates me.
It was an ok memoir. I felt there was too much minutia about the early days and kept being surprised that there was more to write about. I could've easily cut 100 pages from the narrative.
Fran
This book could have used a harsh editor that would have cut the length by at least 200 pages. There was a bit of an interesting story in there somewhere, but you had to get through a bunch of repetitive nonsense to get there.
Kristin
the worst ever; couldn't finish. not a good writer and not really an interesting story. memoir of a girl / woman who grows up with parents she doesn't realize are life-long criminals. sounded kind of interesting but WASN'T!
Becky C.
I listened to this and it was very hard to stick with it until the end (18 parts). I definitely liked the first half better than the second half. It's an interesting story but it just seemed to go on far too long.
Shannon
An interesting biography giving insight to how one can love someone who is capable of terrible things.
Giselle
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Paige
I'll admit it, I laughed and I cried at times throughout this book because the clinques can be true to almost any family. It's a memoir by Jennifer Mascia, who tells the story of her childhood, learning of her family's secrets, betrayals and the ability to move past it knowing that you were loved.
Not alot of people can say that their father was wanted by the FBI and was a business associate with Joey Gallo, a big time mobster even before the Gotti family. Early on, you can sense that the author
...more
Jessica
Jennifer Mascia knew her family was different when the FBI came to arrest her father when she was 5 years old. What followed was years moving from place to place, blowing through credit cards and money like it was nothing and lots of fighting between everyone. But, there was also a lot of love - Jennifer was the only child of her parents, although her father had 3 other children from a previous marriage. So, Jennifer was doted on by both her parents and she helped them both when a few years apar ...more
Jessica
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Meg
This book was written as an attempt for the author to cope with her parents' deaths. Although her parents did live interesting lives (her father was associated with mob activities), the narration by their daughter is frustrating if you expect this to be a biography of their lives. Mascia simply doesn't have enough adult perspective and information to be able to provide a biography. At one point she actually consults a forensic psychoanalyst to posthumously shrink her parents, and a good chunk of ...more
Brady
It's not Mob Wives, which I guess is what I was expecting. Honestly, through most of the book I kept wondering why she bothered to publish it. It's so very very personal, her own struggle to discover who her parents really were and to deal with her grief at their deaths.

This wasn't to me the story of a Mob Princess (not that she claims to be. Maybe the book's marketers screwed up) but really the story of a child of addicts, from a family of broken people. She doesn't offer easy answers, or much
...more
Carole
This is a fascinating biography about a woman who grew up with a dad who'd been associated with the mob, and who had done time for some murders. The author grew up instinctively knowing that something was going on, but her parents tried to protect her from the truth. Although i found a couple sections of the book a little slow, i thoroughly enjoyed this book. It was an interesting perspective and insight into their family.
Megan
In this book, Mascia describes her odd but loving childhood with vaguely criminal parents, her parents' painful deaths from cancer, and her subsequent discovery of just how criminal her father really was. She spends a great deal of time on how grief-stricken her parents' deaths made her feel, and she seems to cry about it at the drop of a hat. It actually got a little old - didn't she know that her parents would die before she did? Still, they did both die while she was in her 20s, and in rather ...more
Rita
Excellent portrayal of how a child would grow up in a family that is a lot less than 'normal' (whatever that is). The story runs up against normal events in a family (birthdays, holidays, etc). There's great authentic human behavior that we seldom think about.
Samantha
I thought this book was going to be about the author living with her parents while her father was in the mafia and how she had to keep secrets. It's not. It's about her relationship as she gets older with her parents coming to terms with their life. It is a very slow moving book that is repetitive. The author seemed to be stretching situations in order to make a book. There is a lot of detail about how both her parents die a slow death from cancer and how she feels about this. The author also wa ...more
Cindy
I've tried finding where I read the comparison but I haven't had much luck. This book was touted as similar to Walls' Glass Castles or Half Broke Horses. Not even close!

The first part of the book was interesting and well written. The author is a reporter for the New York Times. After Mascia's father dies and she begins investigating her family's past the story seems to drone on and one. Mascia spends a lot of time trying to rationalize how she can still love her parents and have fond memories o
...more
Kelly
Well, I gave up on this book. I really, really enjoyed the first 150 pages, although it was a slow read. I had heard an interview w/the author on NPR and thought this was going to be about mafia, about her family hiding out and running from the feds. It's not. It's about how that all happened before she was born, and how she didn't know why her dad had been in jail. Then it's more about her life, her life with her mom and dad, and almost all the rest of the book was about her parents dying and d ...more
Jessica
This is a memoir of a girl who finds out about her parents' seedy past after their passing. At times it seems unbelievable that she didn't know more, but the strong-willed, intelligent and loving mother always had a plausible explanation for their family's oddities. The first half of the book tells the story of this family unit up to the protagonist's parents' passing. The second half focuses on her coming to terms with the truth, her own lineage, and where to go from there. I tend to like books ...more
Carolynmora
Should have been such an interesting story, but I couldn't relate to these people at all.
Sharon Lensky
Interesting premise but I think the writing could've been better.
Louann
This was ok. VERY.VERY.DETAILED. There were a lot of interesting parts and a lot of very slow parts. There are a couple of things I am wondering: 1) is it healthy to know THAT MUCH about your parents' lives before you knew them and 2) would any of our lives stand up to the kind of hindsight criticism that is leveled on her parents' life choices? Amateur psychologists can have a field day with this one but they will have to be patient. It is looongggg.
Betsy
This was an interesting book with an amazing story. Since Jennifer Mascia and I are roughly the same age, I enjoyed reading about how our lives could be so similar, yet so different in so many ways. Some parts of this book, though (especially the end) dragged on painfully & unnecessarily. Although she's a good writer, I sometimes felt like I was hearing the same parts of the same story over and over again in random, scrambled order. It was worth reading, though.
Elizabeth
the first half kept my interest but once she started delving deeper into her father's past (i.e. being the investigative reporter), i lost interest. I felt the book was done halfway through and it could have been satisfying if it ended there. I actually never even finished the book past a few additional chapters because I felt like I was reading a totally different book, one that was just giving facts in some kind of non-narrative way.
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