Pieces of Someday by Jan Vallone

Pieces of Someday by Jan VallonePieces of Someday, the memoir of Jan Vallone, tells the story of an Italian-American woman who, after decades of striving to fulfill the wishes of her parents, comes to realize that she hasn’t yet discovered her true self.

So, at age 44, Jan leaves her law practice to teach English in a yeshiva high school — perhaps a curious career move for a Catholic lawyer, but there’s no doubt that for Jan, a whole new journey had begun. Jan’s search to balance her career and family with her own individual pursuit of happiness had been a lifelong struggle, but once she began following her heart, good things followed.

The book takes us through Jan’s life in New York, Seattle, and various trips to Italy — and she never skims over the difficult parts, namely a strained relationship with her father, marital problems, infertility, and struggles with her own faith. Instead, Jan carries us with her through her conflicting emotions and values, often with a sense of dry humor that I found entirely relatable.

Jan’s word selection is superb and her rich descriptions pick up the reader and gently drop her into each scene. One of my favorites is toward the end of the book when Jan and her family go to Sicily to see the remembrance of her grandmother that, as family legend had it, her grandfather had erected back in their small village of Castelvetrano:

We walked silent, filed around it, skirting a rusty railing collapsed at its feet. The grotto — ivy shrouded, suckers crumbling its surface, shoot tips tasseling its mouth. Inside, bird-soiled Mary prayed with fingerless rosary-strung hands, and the altar, sooty, fractured, was ankle-deep in trash. Outside in the porcelain photo, my grandmother, half my age, smiled above the tarnished plaque….

I give Pieces of Someday four espresso cups out of five and recommend it to anyone who has struggled with balancing what is expected of you with what you truly want — and also to those who simply enjoy good, descriptive writing.

More about the book:

Pieces of Someday has won two Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, placing first nationally in the memoir category and first across genres in the Pacific region. It is also now available on Kindle ($5.99 as of this writing).


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