YONKERS Yonkers!: A story of race and redemption
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About the Author
YONKERS Yonkers! reminds me of classics like "A Tree Grows in Brooklyn" and "To Kill a Mockingbird." This great story is about race and ethnicity in America during the 1960s and early 1970s. It was so detailed and intriguing that I felt like I was being drawn into someone's life. I felt for Herman Lynch. He faced a true struggle. He wasn't the best looking kid and he was black. He had many obstacles to confront, but because of his friendship with Cookie Colangelo, he is forced to straddle between two worlds: black and white. Today, the color lines are looser and it's cool to be a person of color. The Millennials don't see the world the way their parents or grandparents saw the world. And yet, there is a great history lesson here of what has changed and also of what has not changed...It's the notion...the more things change, the more things stay the same. The characters capture the collective Yonkers mindset of how people thought back then, and, in many ways, still think the same way about the world today.
-Wali Collins, Comedian, Actor, Author
YONKERS Yonkers! is a story of coming of age during the time of heavy drug use, Woodstock, Vietnam and the beginning of the civil rights movement as experienced by Cookie, a talented Italian girl in Yonkers, a town bordering New York City but culturally miles apart. Cookie, whose mother is mentally ill and whose father doesn't know how to cope with his two daughters, fends for herself. She recognizes prejudice and with her we learn the quirks of the close knit Italian population, the blacks in the projects who have to live carefully to stay alive, the negligently run Catholic schools, and here and there a teacher who does make a difference. This is a terrific book. I have never read a book that crawls so into the innards of ethnic groups showing their prejudices and fears. It is a great book for adults and young readers.
--Edith Lynn Hornik-Beer, Author/Journalist
As if by literary magic, Patricia Vaccarino's YONKERS Yonkers! acts as a time machine to give a keen view of people, place and period. The people are primarily the working class Italians of the place. The place is Yonkers, NY. Yonkers, a city in Westchester County just north, and in the shadow, of New York City. The period is the time of Woodstock, as the 1960s came to a close, and it takes the reader through the very early 1970s. Gum popping adolescent girls, their counterpart teenage schoolboys, the local suspected mob guy, the town gossip, and the ways that neighborhoods and even blocks functioned in those days are all depicted with crystal clarity. The protagonist is Cookie, a girl who manages to be a rebel, a poet, a substitute mother for her younger sister, a part-time caretaker for her mother, and a sub rosa iconoclast in a neck of the woods that would denounce such a concept. Of special appeal is the focus on teen and pre-teen girls in that awkward stage as they begin to mature and discover themselves. Vaccarino's lyrical writing and flawless dialogue capture the essence of the life of these Yonkers girls in their early teens. There is humor, pathos, heartbreak, and great insight into how social morés and psychological and psychiatric advances have been made in the generation-plus since those years. And yet much of Cookie's story, and that of her friends, family, and nemeses, are still very much with us today.
--Dean Landsman, Author, Digital Strategist