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Weekend Reading: Karen Gravano Releases Mafia Memoir

“A lot of people glamorize this lifestyle, and only choose to look at the glitz and the glory, but the cold reality of this world is murder, and that is not something people think about when they romanticize the Mafia. Looking back, families of the Mafia pay the consequences for actions they had no part it.” – Karen Gravano

Karen Gravano’s long-anticipated memoir, Mob Daughter: The Mafia, Sammy “The Bull” Gravano, and Me! is to the bookshelf what “Mob Wives” is to television: A scandalous, voyeuristic glimpse into a notorious lifestyle so guarded, it may as well be fiction to most of us.

The thing is, it’s not fiction, and Karen Gravano – along with her mother and brother – certainly have paid the consequences for Sammy’s actions. They lost homes, friends, and even family members over the lifestyle that Sammy chose to lead…

…and eventually turn his back on.

Throughout Mob Daughter, Karen describes her life-long struggle to find a balance between her father’s criminal lifestyle and her own healthy, happy existence.

How do you find that balance?

Growing up Gravano wasn’t easy, but it had its perks. Wealth, power, and most of all, respect, overshadowed suspicions, doubts, and even murder.

Yet when Sammy did the one thing he taught his children never to do – when he cooperated with the government and helped the FBI finally bring down Gambino crime family boss John Gotti and essentially became a “rat” – Karen’s reality took a hit from which it never recovered.

She finally knew for sure that the father who placed so much emphasis on family meal times was also the man who made his living tearing other families apart, and that realization meant creating a new life.

Her own life.

Mob Daughter is not a literary masterpiece, by any means; then again, Gravano isn’t an award-winning authoress, is she? She’s the child who found a gun under her father’s mattress, the teenager who saw the names and faces of her father’s murder victims splashed across newspapers, and the woman who, after spending more than a decade on the other side of the country trying to put her life back on track, moves back to the heart of it all to finally face her past.

She’s the daughter of Sammy the Bull, and she’s simply telling us how she created her own life after the life her father created for her fell apart.

Mob Daughter hits shelves this Valentine’s Day. Visit St. Martin’s Press to learn more.

Image Source: St. Martin’s Press

Weekend Reading: Karen Gravano Releases Mafia Memoir

Alicia Sparks

Alicia Sparks is a freelance writer and editor and the creator of, where she blogs to help new freelance writers get their quills in the pot, so to speak. Among animal rights, music, and physical wellness, her passions include mental health and advocacy. Here at Psych Central she works as Syndication Editor as well as authors Your Body, Your Mind, Unleash Your Creativity, and World of Psychology's weekly "Psychology Around the Net."

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APA Reference
Sparks, A. (2012). Weekend Reading: Karen Gravano Releases Mafia Memoir. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 14, 2020, from


Last updated: 11 Feb 2012
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