Of the mysterious Night Blooming Cereus, Mary Cappello writes: “The flower fell into our neighborhood like a shooting star.” That neighborhood was a working-class suburb of Philadelphia riven by class distinction and haunted by contradiction. In tracing the marks that immigration and assimilation have left on her Italian-American family, Cappello also offers us her family’s unsung art-their gardens, letters, and rosary beads-for the lessons they teach us about desire, creativity, and loss.
“Cappello’s writing shines and, like the flowers she cherishes, offers fleeting glimpses of beauty.” -Sara Ivry, New York Times Book Review
“In this remarkable memoir, Mary Cappello explores the legacy of her family with not only grace of style but a kind of grace of being. . . . Fierce, honest, and deeply affecting.” -Jay Parini, author of Benjamin’s Crossing
“Cappello draws you deeply into her world and rewards you with rich description and sustained motifs. . . . She achieves an illumination that borders on epiphany.” -Corene Lemaitre, Philadelphia City Paper
“[A] story about . . . love’s possibilities and impossibilities, and the beauty and danger that lurk in the garden of our lives.” -Fred L. Gardaphe, Fra Noi
“The literature of immigration has produced such notable works as the novels Giants in the Earth and Call It Sleep. . . . [Night Bloom] can take an honorable place among them.” -Whitney Scott, Booklist