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A surprisingly tender coming-of-age story of a close-knit yet tough Sicilian-American family that accepts and welcomes a young boy struggling to understand himself—by the former Daily News (New York) gossip columnist and E! television host.
A.J. Benza’s distinctive blend of wit, dry humor, and genuine tenderness shines through this candid, compelling memoir about the summer of 1974 when his shy, effeminate cousin comes to live with A.J.’s family, which is dominated by his short-tempered, outspoken, hyper-masculine father. At its core, A.J.’s story is about learning that “being exactly who you were meant to be is the only thing that matters.” Through anecdotes of fishing with his father, playing tackle football, and conquering neighborhood bullies, he tells a story of triumph and acceptance, of a loving but rough around the edges family that puts aside its prejudices to welcome with open arms a young boy struggling to understand his sexuality and ultimately accept himself.
In a sometimes raw and always endearing voice, ’74 and Sunny is a revelatory account of a life-defining summer on Long Island, when tolerance wins over ignorance, family neutralizes fear, and love triumphs over all. For anyone who’s navigated the choppy seas of adolescence, this story about redefining what it means to be a man, and learning to accept those whom we might fail to understand will surely resonate.