Grace Mattioli is the author of The Greco Family Trilogy: Olive Branches Don’t Grow On Trees (2012), Discovery of an Eagle (2014), and The Bird that Sang in Color (2021). The first book of this literary fiction series is written from the point of view of Silvia Greco; the second is through the perspective of her older brother, Cosmo; and the third is the story of the matriarch of the family, Donna. The first two take place in the present; the third is a family saga, beginning in 1970 and ends in the present day.
The Greco’s are Italian-American from New Jersey as is Grace. She began writing this trilogy to defy the negative stereotypical conception of this subculture. That is, the Greco’s are neither mobsters nor morons and these books aren’t like other typical Italian-American novels.
While her books address serious issues such as addiction and death, they are filled with humor and insight about what it takes to be truly happy. In the words of Aristotle, “Happiness is the meaning and purpose of life, the whole aim of human existence.” She strongly believes that if people were happier, the world would be a better place. That is, all the trouble in the world, from war to the various injustices, is created by miserable people. So, happiness isn’t just important on the individual level, but the global one as well.
The theme of happiness runs throughout all of her work. Her debut novel, Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees, addresses the importance of peace as the protagonist, Silvia realizes the impossibility of happiness without peace. In her second novel, Discovery of an Eagle, Cosmo becomes aware of the fragility of life and this insight allows him to begin living life more fully. In The Bird that Sang in Color, Donna acknowledges the importance of living authentically as opposed to society’s dictates.
As in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, Italian culture is an integral part of the Greco Family Trilogy books. Grace’s novels are similar to those of Anne Tyler as family is central. Like the work of Matt Haig, Grace’s books explore larger philosophical questions. Like all of the books by the aforementioned authors, Grace’s books contain highly loveable, dimensional characters, humor, and fun!
Grace is currently working on a collection of short stories about the world of work–a subject in which she is very familiar. She has worked as a librarian for over twenty years and has had various other job titles, including jewelry designer, food cart owner, shopkeeper, book seller, substitute teacher, art school model, natural grocery store clerk, short order cook, food server, street vendor, barista, and a giant Twinkie! She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and her cats.