The Grand Junction by Joe Costanzo

The Grand Junction by Joe Costanzo © 2014 Lulu

Five years after his father left Naples for a “Big Job” in America, leaving his mother with the disgraceful parting gift of an orange corkscrew, Tommy Caruso, Jr. is commanded by his mother to track down his deadbeat dad and bring him home to Italy. Tommy, Jr. sails to Brooklyn, but settles in at a barber shop until his mother’s long-distance nagging makes him resume the search.

His father’s last known location was Livingstone, Colorado. En route to Livingstone, Tommy, Jr. meets a girl, Laurie, and loses all his money before finally reaching Denver, where he establishes himself as a barber in an upper crust hotel.

Tommy, Jr. barely has his financial feet back on the ground before the FBI shows up, demanding the whereabouts of Tommy’s father and the elusive Livingstone mining camp. With Laurie’s help, Tommy, Jr. takes up the search for his father once again. The search leads him and Laurie to Grand Junction, Colorado, where Tommy, Jr. meets his step-brother, Thomas, Jr., from his dad’s second family!

Quirky, weird, funny, and it only got better from there. Both Juniors and Laurie birddog the missing cad-dad to Arizona, encountering Mormons, Navajos, a hobo folk musician, Mexican banditos, and yet another Tommaso Caruso family before returning to Colorado and, at last, the Livingstone uranium storage site, which has connections to the Manhattan Project, Roswell, New Mexico, and aliens from outer space! That’s the nutshell.

With so many characters, locations, and weirdness, I thought Junction might collapse under its own weight, but, hail to Costanzo, I never lost track of the Toms, Mrs. Carusos, Navajos, or FBI agents. And Junction didn’t survive only by quirky plot and character bios. I was as desperate to see if Tommy, Jr. would reconcile with his father or win Laurie’s heart as I was to see if Livingstone sold yellowcake to Martians.

I read Junction in twenty-fours, compelled by the fun, humor, love, and love/hate relationship with family. It was truly the best book I’ve read in a LONG time. Thank you, Joe Costanzo. Your Grand Junction is definitely worthy of my permanent bookshelf, but I can’t put it there until I finish passing it around to everyone I know.

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