Book Reviews

Jersey Gal Rita Tells Her Stories

Rita Mattia is an ambitious and energetic soul, working feverishly to get her family and personal stories out there. Read about her story here!

(Courtesy Photo)

Alexandria, VA – Review: Trying Stuff

Author: Rita Mattia

Published: Whaler Books

Reviewed by: Ralph Peluso, Literary Editor

Zebra Rating – 5 Stripes

Rita Mattia is an ambitious and energetic soul, working feverishly to get her family and personal stories out there. Before the ink was even dry on her debut work Trying Stuff, she started a lively podcast, “Writa Writes and Reads,” that further augments her family history.

Trying Stuff is not a run-of-the-mill chronicle of a family’s journey. Rita’s vignettes capture a time, a place, a person, or a moment in an interesting manner. Rita is not shy about sharing the details of her life. There are humorous moments, touching relationships, fearless encounters, and failures. In the end, the moral of her story is: never give up, never give in, and keep trying stuff until you get it right.

Mattia provides colorful, detailed stories about the characters that have come in and out of her life. Readers gain insight into her relationships with an array of relatives like her full of flare grandmother Effy, King Alphonso, and Cousin Karen. Rita drags readers into her stories with colorful chapter titles like “Underpants and Underpants 2” and “Gators and Hunks.”

Not all the stories are fun and games. Rita does not shy from sharing heartbreak and trauma. Some parts, like stories about her mother, are tender. In others, she praises her exceptional ancestors. But through all of it, she laughs at herself and her life and keeps moving forward.

“Don’t expect to read my autobiography,” Mattia warns. “This is not the story of my life, but some of my favorite stories from it. Oh, and if you’re worried about what I’ve written about you, relax. It’s all good.”

More than 70 years ago, Rita Mattia’s paternal great-grandfather completed The Recollections of Peter B. Mattia, an autobiographical recap detailing 19th-century life in Newark, New Jersey, with other early Italian settlers. His personal experiences appear exaggerated, but names, places, and dates are established parts of her family history.

Rita was born in New Jersey, where she gained her education. She is retired and continues her life in Virginia. Mattia loves the theater, music, and family relationships. Rita continues to unveil her family and life in “Writa Writes and Reads.” Rita journals three centuries of family history from early times in Italy to current times in Virginia. Mattia explores the Italian and the Irish immigrant experience, growing up Catholic, and her struggles with mental illness. Each episode is based on true events.

In Trying Stuff and in her podcast, Mattia is always open and honest. She bares it all without apology. She reminds us that in life, there are times we all will laugh, hurt, do things right, and make mistakes. Zebra stripes – 5

ICYMI: Gladys Davis, Celebrated Alexandria Librarian of Over 60 Years, Passes at 100

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