The influence of my family lives on strongly in my life, in my every day decisions, struggles, and joys despite that most of my family members have either passed away or even more sadly, have become estranged from me. This is one of the main reasons I write about family. Whether people in our families are close with us or long gone, they continue to have a profound impact on us. I demonstrate the eternal influence of family in all three of my novels. In Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees, Silvia’s non-traditional sense of style develops from her older sister Angie’s constant attempts to tell her what’s right and what’s wrong.
‘“That’s all wrong,” Angie would say when they were kids, looking down at six-year-old Silvia dressed in a green dress and purple stockings. “You have to wear colors that match, or at least complement each other.” Then she would open little Silvia’s drawers and get out a pair of appropriately matching stockings, either white or black, for her to change into.”
Growing up in such a tumultuous household causes Silvia to run from place to place in search of happiness. This chaos had an opposite effect on Cosmo, making him unable to move, to stay sedentary. This coupled with his father’s tendency to call him a failure is what keeps him from making any kind of moves and or decisions that could lead to a more fulfilling life. In Discovery of an Eagle, Cosmo acknowledges that his fear of the unknown is what has kept him so complacent, and in turn, unhappy.
In The Bird that Sang in Color, Donna’s traditional values come from both her mother and father. The following excerpt describes Donna’s reaction to her mother’s explanation of her why Vincent’s decision to study art is a bad one and how it will probably lead to him becoming a starving artist.
“I thought she had a point with the whole starving artist thing. I imagined Vincent really skinny, dressed in rags and living on the street, like I saw people do in Philadelphia. It made me so sad when I saw these people living like rats. Envisioning my own brother as one of them made me want to cry. I kept trying to get that cool, big brother image back in my head, but the sad starving one kept pushing the cool one out. I wanted to be angry at the starving Vincent for pushing the cool Vincent out, but I felt so sorry for him.”
Donna’s parents influence how she shapes her life, her beliefs about what it takes to be happy. Later, she tells her friend Randy her epiphany that her wise and well-intending parents may have not had the right ideas.
‘”It’s tough to break down a lifetime of beliefs. I just really always thought I needed to live a certain way to be happy. I can still hear my dad telling me to be sure to marry rich. You know it’s funny the voices that get stuck inside your head—even when you know they’re wrong. “
Grace Mattioli is the author of Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees, Discovery of an Eagle, and The Bird that Sang in Color. These family drama books are available from all major online book sellers, including Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple Books.