Joey Frascone grows up in Yonkers, a product of his Italian-American environment at a time when divorce is commonplace. Although his parentsí divorce is acrimonious, Joey has strong emotional ties to his older sister, Catherine. Between the siblings, they manage to navigate the dangerous waters of parents no longer in love, parents who seethe with resentment for each other.
Joey's early years are spent with neighborhood friends, attending school and enduring the aggravations of adolescent development, surrounded by familiar faces throughout his youth. These are working class people who value their friends and neighbors, a secure identity of Americana gathered together in community.
Approaching maturity, Joey is presented with the usual challenges. His future is a continual source of concern. On a road trip with two friends prior to graduation, the trio travels only as far as South Carolina before they turn back. Nevertheless, this short-lived experiment offers opportunity for emotional maturity, if not much life experience.
In a series of anecdotal chapters, Prete writes a fictional-memoir, his personal account of American youth in transition. While the stories frequently appear random and rambling, they are the familiar tales shared by young men in an America that is defined by local accents and cultural attachments -- in this case, Italian. And Joey is purely Italian. His language and demeanor are recognizable and endearing, his attachments representative of guys like himself.
Say That to My Face isnít a book with a message, just a stroll through memory of when life was predictable and comfortable. This is, very simply, a young manís coming-of-age, a young man intimidated and enticed by the larger world, reminiscing about a childhood that has given him identity and the courage to face the future.