Book Title: Gypsies of New Rochelle
Author: Ivan Jenson
Favorite Quote: “Can you dig this?”
I was personally contacted by the author, Ivan Jenson, to check out his book right before Thanksgiving holiday this year. With every else on staff swamped, at first, I didn’t think I could fit it into my busy schedule, but boy, am I glad I did fit it in. In the little over a month that I’ve had my one copy, it’s flown around the office from staff member to staff member. I managed to get a hold of it for a second read through and I wasn’t disappointed. So many people can relate to the family dynamics and teenage angst in this book. It’s definitely one of those quick, enjoyable, reads that you must pick up now!
The Gypsies of New Rochelle is so life like that one would assume that this is someone’s retelling of their own life in the 1980’s. Truth is the author did loosely base this book on his real life. He originally wanted this story to be a screenplay, but after waiting forever for studio companies to make up their minds, he turned it into a novel instead. Ivan Jenson has spun a tale that can’t be put down and makes you laugh so hard you cry. The Aldridge Family is far from normal. They’ve spent their lives going from place to place waiting for someone in the family to make it big. They’ve stolen money, have possible ties to the mafia, and will do anything to make their ultimate dream come true. Our story begins as Nora, Jarrett, Krystal, and Shawn attempt to grow up in their tiny new town of New Rochelle with their parents and grandmother. Their mother is a hot-blooded, coffee drinking, over the top stage mom. Grandmother, on the other hand, is a quiet devoted Catholic with a lot of secrets. Their father happens to be living vicariously through each of his children and believes that it’s family that will lift you up. Jarrett is an inspiring mechanical genius who has yet to figure out the invention that will get him out of his family and on his own. Krystal is the beauty of the family but also the most secretive out of all the kids. Unfortunately, all of Mom and Pop’s energies are solely focused on their oldest child, Nora, who happens to be a musical violin prodigy. After signing a major money making deal with a lucrative agent in NYC, they all start to prepare for Nora’s first performance at Carnegie Hall that will shoot the entire family into superstardom. But can Nora handle the pressure along with having a forbidden relationship? Of course, we can’t forget about Shawn, the youngest, in all of this. He is the only one who seems to have “no purpose” in the family. The Gypsies of New Rochelle is the story of Shawn trying to figure out his life while trying to survive his family’s wild antics.
As a 17-year-old living in the 1980’s, Shawn has a love for riding the train down to NYC to see his peep show girlfriend, Camilla and getting advice from the family’s cocaine-fueled agent Carey Casey. Although he attends an art school for sculpting, all of his sculptures end up dropping to the floor like a giant pile of goop. Things change one day when Jarrett convinces him to try out his latest flying contraption which leads him to meet the blonde virgin girl next door Beth. Trying to have the best of both worlds, Shawn attempts to date both women. Meanwhile, the family is trying to save their cousin, Pito, from a brainwashing cult by kidnapping him all while trying to prep Nora for inevitable stardom. Seriously, there is never a dull moment in this house on the hill. Lies made to each other. Secrets are spilled. People are hurt. Eventually, things all come to a breaking point at Nora’s big performance that may threaten to ruin everything they’ve worked for! Will the show be a success or utter chaos? Does the family make it big? You will have to read it to find out! 🙂