I am typing away, getting the third book of the Becoming America’s Stories out of my head and onto the page. The Heart of Bakers and Artists and The Dreams of Singers and Sluggers is set in the Lower East Side of New York City, 1911 and follows Lily Taglia, a young daughter of Sicilian immigrants, who lives with her large family in a small tenement apartment. Millions of European immigrants flood the streets and crammed into overcrowded tenement apartments, all vying for their place while history unfolds. I took most of the characters and scenes from my grandparents’ and great grandparents’ experiences immigrating to America and beginning their history in the Lower East Side. Reverberations of the social changes, innovations, and policies that occurred then affected future generations and continue today.
The third book takes place during the holiday season of 1911. Electric lights did not illuminate the streets or windows yet and the bitter cold made working, daily shopping, and errands extra difficult. The shadow of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire loomed over the preparations for Christmas and Hanukkah. Mama’s sister suddenly arrives with two of stepsons. The Taglia’s have to make room for the added family into the already tight three-room apartment. There is a suspicion that this aunt and her stepsons are not who they say they are. But it is Christmas, a magical time even for the children of the Lower East Side. Everyone has a wish.
There was so much research that plunged me down fascinating rabbit holes. How were the holidays celebrated in the Lower East Side and how was it different from the rest of Manhattan Island? What old world traditions became part of the American way? What did they eat? How did children play when the weather was so cold? What were their wishes for the new year?
Lots to consider.
Like I said, I am typing away. Although I continue to wrestle with scene sequences, pacing, and new character developments, the story needs a title. It may help me “see” the process through better. There are two possibilities: The Wishes of Sisters and Strangers or The Wishes of Sisters and Liars. Perhaps you have a better idea. The setup must be like The Heart of Bakers and Artists and The Dreams of Singers and Sluggers.
Please help me decide by filling out the survey.
Pray for peace.
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