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Authors: Suzanne Corso

Brooklyn Story

BOOK: Brooklyn Story
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I remembered the days when Tony and I were an inseparable item and everyone on the street knew it. Days of discovery and promise, when the excitement in Bensonhurst was as high as the girls' teased hairdos. …

Chosen by
USA Today
as one of their “New Voices” of 2011, Suzanne Corso makes her unforgettable literary debut with

Brooklyn Story

“Corso gets the Brooklyn dialect pitch-perfect and keeps the pace brisk.”

Publishers Weekly

“Wonderful. … You're hooked from the first sentence.”

—Olympia Dukakis, Academy Award–winning actress

“Tragic yet triumphal … a must-read.”

—Lorraine Bracco, Academy Award–nominated actress

“This story explores the mind and heart of a young girl struggling for her identity in a soulless world. Heartbreaking and sensitively written. A very unusual coming-of-age story.”

—Armand Assante, Emmy Award–winning actor

Gallery Books
A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2011 by Suzanne Corso

All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book or portions thereof in any form whatsoever. For information address Gallery Books Subsidiary Rights Department, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020

First Gallery Books trade paperback edition November 2011

GALLERY BOOKS and colophon are
trademarks of Simon & Schuster, Inc.

The Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau can bring authors to your live event. For more information or to book an event contact the Simon & Schuster Speakers Bureau at 1-866-248-3049 or visit our website at

Designed by Esther Paradelo

Manufactured in the United States of America

1   3   5   7   9   10   8   6   4   2

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is available.

ISBN 978-1-4391-9022-7
ISBN 978-1-4391-9023-4 (pbk)
ISBN 978-1-4391-9024-1 (ebook)

To the three women who made me who I am today:

My Grandma Rose
My Mother Judy
and The Blessed Mother



Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Chapter 14

Chapter 15

Chapter 16

Chapter 17

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

Chapter 20

Chapter 21

Chapter 22

Chapter 23

Chapter 24

Chapter 25


If you keep thinking “That man has abused me,” holding it as a much-cherished grievance, your anger will never be allayed.

If you can put down that fury-inducing thought, your anger will lessen. Fury will never end fury, it will just ricochet on and on.

Only putting it down will end such an abysmal state.

—Sunnata Vagga,

The Pocket Buddha Reader,
edited by Anne Bancroft (2001)

June 1982

Some people lived in the real world and others lived in Brooklyn. My name is Samantha Bonti and of course I was one of the chosen. At age fifteen, I was seduced into a life that shattered my innocence, a life that tore at my convictions and my very soul, a life that brought me four years later to the sunlit steps of the courthouse in downtown Brooklyn.

Now, at age nineteen, I stood below the stone facade, watching strangers come and go with purposeful strides; I paused to contemplate how I got there. The dark events of my recent past replayed in my mind in an instant, while thoughts about my disadvantaged beginnings and a lifetime of struggle flooded my consciousness. It had been no small blessing of Providence, I knew, to be born without deformity, to be endowed with a fierce determination to make my own way in the world, and to be favored by His hand, which worked through others as I matured.

My mother, Joan, tried her best to give me a better life filled with possibility. But she was scarred by her own past, poisoned with cynicism and shackled by addiction and poor health. Mom was a striking woman on the outside and a frail one within. Her beauty was obvious from a distance, but up close one could see that her bottle-dyed, wavy auburn tresses covered
deep lines in her face. A witty woman who had had the potential to be brilliant and used to be full of life and spunk, Mom had been beaten down by an abusive husband.

Vito Bonti was a Catholic immigrant from Italy and as hardheaded a Sicilian as there ever was. A Vietnam vet who owned a pizzeria, he did nothing for Mom and blamed her for his bitter disposition. After all, Mom was nothing more to him than a poor Jewish girl from Brooklyn and he never failed to remind her of that. Despite her willingness to forgo her own faith and take up his beliefs and his customs, he cheated on her with other women as often as he could steal away. When Joan and Vito were alone in their apartment, they argued long and loud enough for neighbors to hear. In a fit of rage one month before I was born, he threw a car jack at my mother's pregnant belly. The hemorrhaging forced her into premature labor and she was rushed to the hospital. The doctors said if I was lucky enough to be born, I would most likely have severe brain damage from the impact of the blow, or, even worse, be a stillborn. Fate achieved, fear stepped aside, and I survived. Then Vito abandoned her. He never sent a penny for support and never came around. I saw him once by chance when I was six years old when Mom pointed him out in the neighborhood. He was a nice-looking man with long, black hair and a scruffy beard, who wore a brown shirt buttoned to the collar that had pink flowers on it. I ran to my father and hugged his legs tightly. He pulled away, and I never saw him again.

Maybe it was better that way, I thought. Mom had it tough enough as it was, living off Social Services and living with disease that visited her weakened body; she didn't need more of Vito's physical abuse on top of her hardships. Mom may have felt that having a daughter was one of them, but she never said that to me. And although there were moments when I knew she loved me—when she wouldn't let me hang out in the
streets with neighborhood kids and when she kept me away from boys—I only heard her say those words once. Instead, she criticized me at every turn and picked fights with me without any provocation on my part. She would never say I was pretty, but would prove it in other ways by sticking up for me which were flat-out embarrassing. Like walking into the bathroom in elementary school with gold spandex pants yelling at the other girls who were talking about my chipped tooth. My nickname was “Razor Tooth” until Mom saved up enough money to fix it two years later. Mom, of course, set them straight. They never said a word again to me until eighth grade.

Mom's only comforts were cigarettes and going unconscious with drink, prescription meds, and the recreational drugs she used on occasion. Sniffing glue was what she did because it was cheap—alone, or with seedy friends or even my friends. Over time, illness drained her body and addiction poisoned her spirit. To her credit, Mom kept her worst habits and her demons from me as best she could and told me now and then that there was another way to live.

BOOK: Brooklyn Story
6.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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