MY CRAZY-WONDERFUL ITALIAN LIFE!
Born into a large Italian, Basque and Panamanian family of storytellers, Sandra Montanino was embraced by an avalanche of multi-linguists, multi-cultures, and a cornucopia of superstitions. Each one enriched her life and imagination.
The Original Recipe is an article featured in Ancestry Magazine about her family’s obsession with "who makes the best pasta sauce." Sandra has found that the riches source of material has come from her own family. It is why she is dedicated to committing their tales, mystical superstitions, adventures, and wisdom to print for everyone to enjoy.
Sandra's longtime husband was born into the immigrant world of Manhattan's Little Italy. From his experiences and those of his family, she is now compiling these stories for another book. Together she and her husband have five children and thirteen grandchildren and while they lived in Los Angeles for the majority of their marriage, they now reside in Provo, Utah.
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From the Author
THE WEIGHT OF SALT (working title) was inspired by both my grandmother Angelina and my great-grandfather Domenico. Their intense life stories have been a great topic of many conversations, told and retold by the family.
I inherited their joy of storytelling. But it took me a long time to realize that these stories would become lost treasures if no one took the initiative to write them down. Since my children have married into other wonderful European nationalities, they and their children will never know the passion of what it was like and what was sacrificed when their ancestors came to America. I began by writing short stories about their lives and was honored to win numerous awards from the League of Utah Writers.
After receiving such recognition, I was asked by League members to reveal a bit about the book I was writing. But I wasn't writing a book. When the question persisted, I decided I'd better get busy. So, I threw myself on my bed, stared at the ceiling and thought about my life's experiences. I traveled through time, and considered everything I had accomplished and everything I'd failed at and everyone I'd known. Like a flash of lightning, my Sicilian grandmother came into my mind. I gave a holler, sat strait up, and jumped out of bed. I grabbed a paper and pen and wrote the outline for the first eighteen chapters. Though everyone had passed away and with no one to interview, the compelling drama still lit a powerful fire. I quickly gathered all the information I had, and connected the remainder with my imagination and my knowledge of their powerful personalities.
My cousin told be once, "Never forget you are strong and you come from strong stock." This novel is such a story.
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It all happened in a corner to Tampa, Florida known as Ybor City and referred to as The Cigar Capital of the World. Back in the late 1800s and early 1900s immigrants from all over were drawn here to find work. Some Italians went to work in cigar factories, while others founded businesses to serve them.
In my book I recount the story of my great-grandfather, Domenico, who before he could speak English, carried a small wood burning stove to the Ybor City train terminal and timed cooking his sausage sandwiches in line with the arrival and departure of trains. He said "If you are going to sell something, sell food, so you will never go hungry." The smell of sausages lured hungry travelers and Domenico was able to earn enough to build a small grocery and sandwich shop at the edge of the terminal. He later built a home attached to the grocery store where he raised his six children. This is where the story begins.
Angelina Desperate Decisions and Travel a Perilous Road to an Unimaginable Betrayal.
In 2013, the Southern California Writer’s Conference honored her by selecting her first novel as winner of The Outstanding Fiction Award.