Books & Literature

Book Review: Keeping in touch with Cheryl, by Vincenzo Russo

Originally released as “Mama Mia! What a Climb!”, this is the autobiography of Vincenzo Russo, from a distant Italian country town of the 1950s to present-day Adelaide, told as a series of letters to his late wife.

This review was originally published on 6 June 2018 under the book’s original title Mama Mia, What A Climb! The book was updated and re-released in October 2018 under a new title, Keeping in Touch with Cheryl. This review has been updated to reflect the new title but not the new content.


Have you ever finished a book and had to just stop and think before you can move on? Keeping in touch with Cheryl will do that to you.

Vincenzo Russo writes with such a personal and intimate touch that you can’t help but feel a part of the story. From a distant Italian country town of the 1950s to present-day Adelaide, Russo takes you on a detailed and personal journey that explores his life as an Italian migrant who arrived in Australia post-World War Two with nothing but the love of his family and drive to experience the world.

In terms of writing style, there is very little amiss with the book. It is written as a series of letters to his late wife, Cheryl; each chapter exploring a new stage in his life as he experiences it. Stylistically, Russo employs his vast knowledge of the English language through expert metaphor and simile to describe events in a way that you begin to feel as though you are there with him in his head as it happens.

Personality shines through and it is wondrous to read and get to know Russo. Normally this particular style of writing drives me to utter boredom but Russo manages to sneak in heavy life lessons with the light-hearted moments he chooses to share leading to a beautiful piece of work.

Autobiographies aren’t for everyone, but this one ticks all the boxes as a read that anyone can enjoy – if not for the life lived, then for his masterful writing. Anyone with an interest in the history of Adelaide, migration and Italian-Australians will love its honesty, whilst readers looking for something a little different will enjoy the narrative he tells. A must-have for local historians!

You can’t go wrong with it – Russo is local, he’s real, and there’s nothing like seeing Adelaide through someone else’s eyes.

Reviewed by Zoe Butler
Twitter: @Zoe_Rambles

Rating out of 10: 7

Distributed by: Vincenzo Russo
Released: February 2018
RRP: $10.00

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