Tazia and Gemma
by Ann S. Epstein
Publication date: May 29, 2018
Genre: Historical Fiction
Paperback: ISBN-13: 978-1-925417-72-2
ePub: ISBN-13: 978-1-925417-73-9
Kindle ASIN: B07BZZL2GP
Spanning 1911 to 1961, Tazia and Gemma is told from the perspective of an unwed mother, whose tale moves forward in time, and her daughter, whose search for her father moves backward. Tazia, a pregnant seventeen-year-old Italian immigrant and survivor of the Triangle Waist Company fire, flees New York, leaving her married lover to think she miscarried the baby he urged her to abort. To support herself and her daughter Gemma, Tazia takes low-wage jobs as she migrates westward. Gemma, now fifty, embarks on an eastward journey to find her father, eventually tracing her roots to Italy. In the end, Tazia no longer needs to escape her history, while Gemma finds that her identity leads back to her mother. The narrative illuminates the tension between assimilation versus honoring one’s heritage, and confronts the struggle for self-respect in the face of discrimination and demeaning work conditions—issues both timely and timeless.