Art & Design Magazine

Book Review - Luca Di Fulvio, the Boy Who Granted Dreams

By Mariagrazia @SMaryG

The Boy Who Granted Dreams

New York, 1909: Fifteen-year-old Cetta arrives on a freighter with nothing but her infant son Natale: strikingly blond, dark-eyed, and precocious. They've fled the furthest reaches of southern Italy with the dream of a better life in America. 

But even in the "Land of the Free," the merciless laws of gangs rule the miserable, poverty-stricken, and crime-filled Lower East Side. Only those with enough strength and conviction survive. As young Natale grows up in the Roaring Twenties, he takes a page from his crippled mother's book and finds he possesses a certain charisma that enables him to charm the dangerous people around him ... Weaving Natale's unusual life and quest for his one true love against the gritty backdrop of New York's underbelly, Di Fulvio proves yet again that he is a master storyteller as he constructs enticing characters ravaged by circumstance, driven by dreams, and awakened by destiny.  (Book Blurb)


We are such stuff as dreams are made on

Dreams are the stuff this story is made on. On the eve of  20th century Cetta leaves the South of Italy and its patriarchal and regressive environment: she is the victim of a rape and an unmarried young mother. Coragiously she sails for America with her baby son, Natale, and a big dream for him. Her son must grow up free and an American citizen, her son must achieve something important in his life. She'll see to that doing whatever she can once in New York.
Natale is Cetta's son. He grows up in the streets of crime-filled Lower East Side where he is the imaginary leader of an imaginary gang, The Diamond Dogs. The gang,  which actually doesn't exist,  is given life by Natale's words, Natale is an extraordinary story-teller who can make people believe his stories are true. He happens to rescue rich heiress Ruth Isaacson and his meeting with the girl will change his life forever. Natale's love for Ruth will lead him to dream big, to become someone important enough to be worthy of Miss Isaacson. She gave him a radio to thank him for saving her and he starts dreaming  of getting to tell stories on the radio.
Sal is a gangster with a heart who will help, love and protect Cetta and Natale once they land in America and all their lives through. His dream is to make Cetta happy and free her from prostitution without appearing weak.
Ruth, who has been beaten to almost death and raped at 13,  dreams of forgetting her past and of being strong enough to accept Natale's love for her as well as her love for Natale without feeling frightened, paralized and dirty. He saved her and gave her hope and a dream to live for. But loving Ntale is natural and terrifying at the same time for Ruth.

Fit for the screen

La Gang dei Sogni (The Boy Who Granted Dreams in the English version)  is everything a good page - turner must be: gripping, well written, fast paced, with believable, relatable,  richly painted, characters.  I wonder how it is possible it hasn't become a movie or a TV series yet, since it provides perfect material: New York and Los Angeles in the 1920s, gangsters and street life, violence and romance, the American Dream and the birth of radio, cars and cinema, sex and blood, gritty and sentimental scenes.  
I got this book from one of my ex-students who loves reading very much. She lent me her copy of this novel since she had greatly loved. It is a copy of the Italian original version of the book, which she had underlined and annotated, which is something  I also usually do with books I love reading. 

Impossible to put it down

Reading this book was overwhelming,  a surprising wave of emotions and thrilling twists. A book I couldn't literally put down and that got me hooked for a couple of days. Yes,  just a couple of days for about 600 pages. Fortunately,  I was on a break from lessons and paperwork!
Haunting and luminous, this masterfully written blend of romance, crime, and historical fiction will thrill lovers of turn-of-the-century dramas like "Once Upon a Time in America" and "Gangs of New York". (

The Boy Who Granted Dreams at
Read an excerpt

About the Author

(the interview in the video above is in Italian)
Luca Di Fulvio was born in 1957 in Rome where he now works as an independent author. His versatile talent allows him to write riveting adult thrillers and cheerful children's stories (published under a pseudonym) with equal ease. One of his previous thrillers, "L'Impagliatore," was filmed in Italian under the title "Occhi di cristallo." Di Fulvio studied dramaturgy in Rome where he was mentored by Andrea Camilleri.

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