If you had the means to change your destiny, would you do it?
Especially if it meant committing acts that are, let’s just say, not so legal? Destiny, fortune, and doing the “right thing” are key themes in Joe Giordano’s novel, Birds of Passage. The book tells the interwoven stories of characters like Azzura Medina, Leonardo Robustelli, and Carlo Mazzi—Italians trying to make their lives the best they can be in an America that is not quite sure how to deal with its immigration influx.
Leonardo is a young native of Naples who can’t get a job. No one in his village is hiring, and he has greater aspirations than the shoemaking trade his mother begs him to enter. Seeking his fortune, he heads to America, land of opportunity. Azzura, born in New York City, is a first-generation American with Italian parents who obey the traditions of their old home in Italy. Carlo is the son of a rich Italian landowner who finds himself in serious trouble when he can’t contain his temper. He is rich, handsome, and brutally cold.
Through these characters and a host of their family, friends, and acquaintances on either side of the Atlantic, Giordano beautifully captures the delicate dance between tradition and the future. Many of them are stuck between the Old World and the New World and between the wishes, desires, and grudges of their parents and their own optimism for the future.
Decision after decision is made, for better or for worse, and as the consequences stack up, all of the main players recalibrate their expectations for life, love, family, and the future. As Giordano intertwines each character’s respective tale, the tension mounts, with the reader eagerly awaiting the resolution of each chapter.
What begins as a simple tale of immigrant hopes and dreams quickly evolves into a story of destiny: how we change it, how we defy it, and how we accept it.