How Am I So Normal? by Brian Todaro

Today we had the pleasure of reviewing Brian Todaro’s autobiography, “How Am I So Normal?” in which Todaro takes a magnifying glass to many of the formative experiences that led to him becoming the man he is today.  Todaro grew up in New York City with parents of both Italian and Jewish decent and several younger siblings.  His mother watched the children at home while his father developed film strips for the movie industry at a warehouse he owned in the city.  Todaro’s autobiography reads almost like a movie itself.  We are offered glimpses of historical moments in our country’s life – the fight for women’s rights, changing attitudes towards African-Americans and gays, the advent of the Information Age – that provide an excellent counterpoint for the author’s personal story, placing his own experiences in the context of U.S. culture at the time.  While many of Todaro’s memories pass for routine, a few – and you’ll have to read to find out – stand out vividly against the black-and-white backdrop of memory.  The dialogue is so fresh it’s as if Todaro carried a notebook throughout his entire life, jotting down his conversations with friends and family in order to keep them carefully catalogued for the future.  Furthermore, Todaro comments that his childhood memories seem to take up a wide bank of storage space in his brain, and they also serve as the focal point for at least the first half of his autobiography.

Touched by early tragedy, Todaro’s story is about the enduring love and acceptance of family, the complicated balance of power between a child and his or her parents, and the overall optimism that helped Todaro face many struggles and obstacles in his own life.  The heart of “How Am I So Normal?” is the author’s relationship with his father, whose connections with the Italian mafia led to his murder while Todaro was still young.  For many years, Todaro dreams of carrying out vengeance against his father’s murderers, though matters take a somewhat unanticipated turn as previously buried truths about his father’s past come to light.  This is a fantastic book for anyone to read, especially if you’re trying to make sense of your own path in the world.  Todaro’s story shows that there is a meaning to why and how events happen in our life, but it is up to us to make the most of what we are given.

“How Am I So Normal?” is still forthcoming – stay tuned for details on its release!