The Clancys of Queens is a delightful memoir full of rich details and that most-necessary of all memoir ingredients, humor. Tara Clancy does not remember her parents ever living together which she thinks i probably a blessing. They divorced when she was two, her father moving to a small, very small 350 square foot converted shed in Broad Channel and her mom eventually living with her grandparents on 251st in Queens. Her mother’s boyfriend, though, was a wealthy man who had an apartment in a high rise on Rockefeller Island and estate next to Colin Powell in the Hampton. Tara navigated her three homes with ease.
The Clancys were hard-living, hard-drinking Irish folk. The Riccobonos were exuberant and bold Italians. Between them, Tara had eleven aunts and uncles and grandparents, great-aunts and great-uncles and cousins that enriched her life.
Her grandmother Riccobono was a pistol, a tough-talking, take no prisoners kind of woman. Her grandfather Riccobono was a kindly man who thought outside the box, taking her with him to work and stopping on the way to fill the trunk of his car with tennis balls, escapees from a poorly designed court.
Her father was a cop, of course. And she was his pint-sized wing-woman at the local bar. Her mother had various jobs, including one that introduced her to Mark, the wealthy investment guru who was a kind and powerful influence on Tara though never presuming to be a second father.
I loved this book. It’s laugh-out-loud funny and most parents who read this will hug their kids and think, “Thank god you’re not like Tara Clancy.” Not that Tara was a bad kid, she was just irrepressible, a bundle of neverending energy and mischief. She would exhaust Dennis the Menace in an hour. However, she’f full of love and kindness, so it’s all okay.
The Clancys of Queens is very naturalistic, as though you’re sitting next to her at the bar while she’s telling you about her family, her friends, her high school, and her college years. There is this absolutely hysterical story when her mom suspecting Tara might be a lesbian, decides to make it easy for her to come out by taking Tara to California to meet her college friend who is a lesbian, a subtle signal that her mom is perfectly happy to have a lesbian daughter. Unfortunately, she missed the part where he friend told her she managed a sex toy shop, a big surprise when the taxi pulls up with fourteen year-old Tara and her mom. Mom was about five years too early, because Tara had not figured that stuff out yet. It’s wonderful to read of a parent who proactively made it easy for her daughter, even if she jumped the gun a bit.
This is a light and easy book, one to read when you need a lift. It’s also the perfect length to read while bread dough is rising twice and resting once, finishing up as the bread comes out of the oven. I suppose I should point out that the language is pretty salty because otherwise I would recommend to everyone.
I received an ARC from LibraryThing.
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