By Deborah Blumenthal
Available now from Albert Whitman Teen (Albert Whitman & Company)
I have a weakness for books involving the mafia. It started when I was a kid and wanted to grow up to be a mob boss, before I realized I didn't have a lot of the prerequisites and am ridiculously law abiding. But it still tempts me in fiction.
Gia is the daughter of a crime boss, but she has other hopes for her future. She's going to go to college. And really, it's not that she wants to get out of the life. She's sick of being worried about her father's safety, but she's perfectly happy having money and a powerful name behind her, no matter the source of that money or name.
MAFIA GIRL does follow a period of some change in Gia's life. She gets arrested for driving drunk and crushes hard on the arresting officer. She also decides she's going to run for class president, get something more positive on her record. The class president plotline worked fairly well for me. Gia's friends are pretty interesting (particularly neglected Clive) and it forced Gia to be somewhat introspective and think about what she had to offer.
The romance didn't work for me at all. MAFIA GIRL is very clear that Gia is recently seventeen. Meanwhile, Michael is a police officer who did a stint in the military. So, even if he just did a four-year active term, he's twenty-two at the very least. (Although I'd say closer to twenty-three at the least.) It might not be so weird if MAFIA GIRL addressed the age difference at any point. Instead, the only difficulty Gia and Michael see is her father and his line of work. I can see Gia just having a crush on an older guy, but I never figured out why Michael reciprocated. Because she looks good? Their early interactions don't really make a great case for Gia's personality. (In fact, to ensure they meet again, she employs a bit of stalking.) And, oh yeah, she's underage and he knows it.
I wanted to like MAFIA GIRL, but it was a bit of a mess. There was a hollowness at the core. The romance is creepy and the ramifications of Gia's father being a mob boss are never explored. I guess he's just one of those nice mob bosses. I'll stick to SON OF THE MOB.