Given Away: A Sicilian Upbringing

May 09, 2019 264

Tuesday May 21 2019, from 19:00 to 21:00 EDT. Casa Belvedere, The Italian Cultural Foundation, 79 Howard Ave, Staten Island, New York, NY 10301. Get tickets here. In Sicily, 1935 a four-year child walks away from her loving family, her mother, her sister and an infant brother, with a great-aunt for a vacation. She spends the next eight years of her life absent from their lives. It was not an abduction nor was it an adoption.

Tina lives in a one-room house in one of the poorest regions of Sicily. She sleeps between a loving aunt and a deranged uncle. She shares her breakfast with goats and chickens while living in the shadow of fascism. The child grows up while WW II ravages the town. Her school is taken over by German soldiers and the things like bread and eggs that were once plentiful, no longer exist.

Less than 25 kilometers away her family leads a very different life. After eight years, she returns home to find her childhood interrupted again. In wartime Europe, childhood does not exist. The child witnesses and experiences many disturbing things from her uncouth, unsanitary living conditions to the failed paratroopers dangling from trees during the allied invasion.

Tina is a survivor. She can forgive those who took so much away from her. By the age of 15, her fate is sealed, again, without her permission. To gain passage to America, she must accept the role of a war bride. A tyrannical, overbearing, bootlegging aunt in America arranges the match. Tina must live under her roof.

Tina has earned the right to complain, yet at no point does she play the victim. At times, her nonjudgmental stance is disquieting. Despite circumstances that could be categorized as abusive and undeniably negligent. Tina respects her parent's decisions and sacrifices herself for the greater good—even when it is not apparent to her.

Given Away, demonstrates that even amid the most horrendous conditions of war, without trivializing the historical tragedy, perseverance prevails as Tina declares what is rightfully hers.

SOURCE: Casa Belvedere

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