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Nicky Deuce: Welcome to the Family    by Steven R. Schirripa & Charles Fleming order for
Nicky Deuce
by Steven R. Schirripa
Order:  USA  Can
Delacorte, 2005 (2005)
Hardcover, CD
* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

School is out for the summer, and twelve-year-old Nicholas Borelli II's suitcase is packed for Camp Wannameko, while his parents go on a cruise. But an explosion of the Camp's septic system changes plans. Nicholas will be spending two weeks at his paternal grandmother's home in Brooklyn, New York. Nicholas is delivered to his relatives' door in a limo driven by family chauffeur Clarence.

Grandma welcomes Nicholas with a strong hug and remarks that he is 'Skin and bones. Just like your father! ... Don't call me Grandmother. Call me Tutti.' It doesn't take long for Nicholas to fall-in-like with Tutti's Italian cooking (his Mom's a vegetarian and he's never had meatballs and pasta). Uncle Frankie Borelli lives at his mother's home. He is a 'big man, tall and wide, with thick black hair and eyebrows'. To help Nicholas fit into the Brooklyn neighborhood, Frankie gives his nephew the nickname 'Nicky Deuce'. Uncle teaches his nephew the meanings of goomba, wiseguy, goodfellas, and Fugheddaboudit, and shows Nicky movies he has never been allowed to see at home, including The Godfather and Raging Bull.

Uncle Frankie proudly introduces Nicky around the neighborhood, where he meets Sallie the Butcher, Jimmy the Iceman, Oscar the Undertaker, Charlie Cement, and Bobby Car Service. Uncle Frankie leaves home often to go on jobs, leaving Nicky to imagine what exactly said jobs might be. Especially after Nicky snoops into Uncle's gym bag and finds items made of heavy metal. Nicky is enrolled in a local summer school, where classmates immediately recognize him as Richie Rich, who arrived in a limo. When boys start to beat Nicky, Tony Caporelli intervenes, becoming Nicky's 'friend, protector, and savior'. The small goomba loves art and is always sketching (said sketches become a map for events later on).

Steven Schirripa is known to The Sopranos television audiences, and wrote the bestselling A Goomba's Guide to Life. Also on his agenda is a starring role in feature film, Duane Hopwood. I hope Schirripa's forthcoming plate is as tasty as Grandma Tutti's meatballs! Co-author Charles Fleming wrote Three Weeks in October: The Manhunt for the Serial Sniper. The authors draw the reader into a splendid adventure in Nicky Deuce, a great read with colorful characters. It's about growing up, and making mistakes, family coming together, and social stereotyping. Along with readers, Nicky experiences risky business and a number of surprises.

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