Romeo and Juliet meet The Bells of St. Mary’s
(A review of the novel “Stolen Christmas” by Arthur Cola)
By Richard Shields Colaianni
“Stolen Christmas” is a story which Hallmark Channel should take to its heart. Taking place in the season of hope, joy and love these attributes perfectly describe this tale not set on the streets of Verona, Italy nor in the urban immigrant neighborhoods of New York City, but in the very heart of Chicago where that legendary cow kicked over that infamous lantern which caused the catastrophic fire. Those streets so familiar to those who grew up in the “Windy City” with names like DeKoven, Lexington, Halsted and of course Taylor encompass what is known as “Little Italy.” There in this old immigrant neighborhood a pair of love struck teens bring that story of alienated families divided by culture and ethnicity into contemporary time. Their two worlds reflect the current issue of what it means to be American. Now mix these two teens not with Bing Crosby’s rendition of Father O’Malley but rather a young pastor named Father Anthony Frazzini. The new pastor is about to lose his Church to a large land development corporation who owns the lease to the land on which the Church stands and you begin to get a sense of this merging of the love story of the ages with the tender almost nostalgic rendering of the actual symbol of Italian immigration to America in the Church of Our Lady of Pompeii. Now add to this mix a third grade boy who learns about the impending end of his Church and School and you almost have the combination you need for this tale of childhood innocence, confrontation of adult forces and impetuousness of youth needed to create a compelling tale which impacts one’s heart and soul.
That final ingredient needed to fully bring this tale of David and Goliath, Montagues and Capulets, Mr. Bogardus and Father O’Malley to life is none other than Jolly Ole’ St. Nick. But there are no reindeer, sleigh or adventures to the North Pole in this story. Rather the young lad forms a plot to prevent Christmas from being celebrated and thus stop the demolition of his Church on December 26th. The encounter of the boy, as he sets out to implement his dastardly deed, and a kindly old gentleman with a long white beard sets into motion a series of events which strike at the very heart of what Christmas entails. The action unfolds as the Pastor, teen lovers (Elena Gonzalez and John Nannini), third grader Romero Gonzalez and the gentlemen they call Mr. Nick come to grips with the breaking of the 7th Commandment for a noble cause and stand ready to battle a giant on Taylor Street in “Little Italy” of Chicago.
Look for the publication of “Stolen Christmas” on amazon.com and at http://www.feedaread.com later this summer and get your copy in time for the holiday season. Author Arthur Cola will be presenting his new book at Al’s, Chicago’s #1 Beef, at 1079 W. Taylor St. in Chicago, on Sat. July 13th beginning at 11 a.m.