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Orienta…She Is the Dance by Patrcia Badia-Johnson is a compelling look at the world of Italian-Americans in the Detroit area in the years leading up to the Depression, at times a warm, nostalgic look at a close-knit community that prized “la famiglia” first and foremost while forging strong ties with their neighbors as all struggled to make ends meet. It’s also the story of a talented young girl who refused to settle for what tradition dictated, instead forging her own path with the reluctant support of her parents. As Orienta begins winning dance competitions and earns a reputation for her acrobatic skills, she uses the modest prizes to pay for dance lessons.

Another story, “The Voice,” is a thriller worthy of Rod Sterling. She also includes commentaries on the declining fortunes of Detroit, which was one of the nation’s largest cities in her youth. All are written from the perspective of a woman who has found her voice and longed-for stability. Available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble

--Roger Di Paolo is a retired journalist, editor-in-chief of the Record-Courier in Kent, Ohio, from 1991-2017

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