"Wrestling with the Devil is an entrancing tale of perseverance, hard work and the pursuit of the American Dream. My reverie was broken only by surges of inspiration to make the best out of my life.'' --Jason Quick, The Oregonian
"This work is an important contribution to the world of wrestling and a must-read for enthusiasts of the sport." --Curley Culp, Professional Football Player, NCAA Wrestling Champion, 1967 Arizona State University
"This wonderful book captures the whole of the immigrant experience in America, the bravado, the ingenuity, the struggle for survival, and most of all, the grace and strength of the Italian-American family. Oral history at its most thrilling." --Merridawn Duckler, Senior Fellow, The Attic Institute Portland, Oregon
"Wrestling with the Devil provided me with new insights on the life of all immigrants, but especially Italian immigrants. The struggle between maintaining the traditions and values that the older generation brought with them from Italy, while the younger generation learned how to be American teenagers and adults is felt as the reader enters the Russo home in Portland, Oregon. Antonio navigated that stage of life with risks and some rebellion, but his determination and deeply rooted values turned him from potential destruction just in time.
My heart broke as 10-year old Antonio was sent to America, alone. The desire for her child to have a chance at a better, more prosperous life was so powerful that it overcame his mother's need to keep a young son close at home. Such a sacrifice of hope - and with a happy ending. I had no interest in the sport of wrestling when I started the book, but I found myself caught up in the matches - I felt the "thrill of victory and the agony of defeat." Russo has written a book that satisfies my interest in all-things-Italian, while also touching the emotions that motherhood has unleashed in me, and perhaps even igniting a tiny spark of interest in wrestling.
Read Wrestling with the Devil and find yourself in the lush backyard vegetable garden in Portland, Oregon - or drinking the Russo family wine around the dining table - you'll feel the anguish of a mother saying good-bye to her young son, and the fear of the little boy alone and sick on a ship to a new land. You'll get beat up along with Tony on the wrestling mat, and then feel the pride of winning. And you will feel the love of generations of the Russo family and the bonds that distance would not break."
--Review from Amazon
"An enchanting blend of words and images that will kindle a child's imagination and touch the hearts of grown-up readers -- especially if their roots stretch back to a family garden. In recounting the steps of growing tomatoes (the pomodori of the title), this story captures the magical love that brings generations together to nurture and celebrate the cycle of life. The whimsical illustrations evoke an Italy that lives on in cherished memories. A charming book that makes the soul smile!"
-- Dianne Hales, Author; La Bella Lingua, and Mona Lisa: A Life Discovered
"I was excited to have the opportunity to preview Tino and the Pomodori, an upcoming children's title from Gemelli Press. In this picture book, Tonya Russo Hamilton tells the story of her father as a young boy in Italy, anticipating his favorite time of the year: the tomato (pomodori) harvest. This book has everything I look for in a great children's title. The watercolor illustrations are stunning and keep the reader's attention. The story is simple, sweet, and reads easily. Children will pick up Italian words and phrases, learn about Italian culture, and have a subtle science lesson in the life cycle of the tomato plant.
My 5-year-old connected with the story right away. She made me pause a few pages in to get her a snack of fresh tomatoes (thankfully we had some in the fridge!), which she happily ate during the rest of the book. There is a healthy dose of Italian language in Tino and the Pomodori. The switches between English and Italian occur naturally. Translations are obvious. There's a glossary of terms in the back just in case, though I felt a pronunciation guide for anyone who might need it would have been helpful, too. My daughter is used to her books being in either English or Italian, not both. I was surprised by how excited she was to hear both languages in one book - she actually commented on that. I especially appreciated the focus on Italy's traditional food culture of eating fresh, local ingredients prepared simply. I was reminded of walking through my neighbors' fields as a kid and enjoying with them a late, leisurely meal of similar foods.
I'm not sure how much longer the picture book stage will last in our household, but Tino and the Pomodori is going to have a place on our shelf." --Review from Amazon