Praise for Pieces of Someday

One Woman’ s Search for Meaning in Lawyering, Family, Italy, Church, and a Tiny Jewish High School 

Reader-Views-Reviewers_Choice_Award-gold-2011-For Printing

“Jan Vallone’s “Pieces of Someday” is an extraordinary book. Memoirs of my contemporaries rarely impress me, unless those people have done something absolutely outstanding, and I would seldom choose to read such memoirs. Pieces of Someday was a true exception. Even if I would not have cared for the story – but I did! – I would have read this for the sheer beauty of Ms. Vallone’s writing. Consider this passage: ‘In those days, I often had a dream, sometimes still do. I’m in a house, climbing stairs, walking hallways. Rarely, it’s modern, picture-windowed; more often Tudor, dark beamed with leaded panes. Its halls are lined with doors knobbed in iron, pewter, glass. I choose a brass knob like a flower, enter a chamber with deep violet walls. Window light filters through an oak tree casting shifting shadows upon another door. I open to a second room, rose red, then another, another, another – green, saffron, flax blue – a Russian Babushka doll of rooms, my heart, a hummingbird.’ I was left speechless after so many passages like the aforementioned one, overcame by the sheer beauty and power of them. ‘… doors knobbed in iron, pewter, glass…,’ what a beautiful departure from the ‘different knobs on the doors’…

Set in New York, Seattle and Italy, this memoir explores a quest for happiness, balance and truth as one woman saw it. While her story is utterly believable and relatable, it is also astonishingly unique and unquestionably delightful. The writing style alone would make me think extremely favorably about Pieces of Someday, but then Jan Vallone did something even more extraordinary. She made me care about her life, her struggles and her search for who she was/is and who she truly wanted to be. Few stones were left unturned in her keen explorations of who, what, where, when and why. Her candid musings on the true essence of beauty, the price of career and the search for balance, the importance and meaning of religion, the proper ways to teach and on the many kinds of love were awe-inspiring and oftentimes poignant. Her eye for detail, her ability to bring all the senses to life in a very vivid way, her sharp dialogue and even the truly surprising epilogue made me wish Ms. Vallone’s Pieces of Someday would never end. But end it did, leaving me amazed and joyful, as true beauty always will. This is a book that everybody could relate to, and I would recommend it highly to anybody who takes pleasure in the beauty of a well written sentence – or many of them.”

–Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson, reviewer, Reader Views

“Memoir is a literary form that is an endless source of controversy. Some consider it inherently narcissistic while others argue that it will replace the novel as the primary form of serious literary prose. But there is one point that many people can agree upon: the rise of memoir as an art form has demonstrated that it isn’t the fame of the author–or her wild adventures or bizarre life experiences–that makes for a good story. Rather, great memoirs are characterized by the quality of their attention to the universal, quotidian experiences of human life–and the honest, courageous exploration of the self, proverbial warts and all. By this measure, Jan Vallone’s memoir, Pieces of Someday, is a wonderful addition to the literature. A New York Italian-American with a complicated relationship to her father, Vallone ignores her early artistic impulses to adopt her father’s profession–the law. Marriage, a vintage house, and worldly success follow, but prove inadequate. Vallone’s struggles with infertility and her decision to adopt, her growing frustration with lawyering and her mid-life shift to teaching literature and creative writing in an Orthodox Jewish yeshiva, turn her world upside down. Teaching and children provide her with a deep sense of fulfillment but come with their own griefs, tensions, and uncertainties. And then faith makes an entrance, in the form of her return to the Catholic Church she has known and not-known throughout her life. As Vallone’s memoir opens, she’s sitting in church, wondering about her life. A childhood friend has told her that life is a circle; her father made her feel that it is a linear path. But sitting in the pew she decides that it is more like stained glass: ‘composed of bits of translucency and opacity–fragments of yesterday, chips of today, pieces of someday, soldered with time. Some jewel-like and whole. Some fractured by the weather…. Only fusion and repair complete the image and allow us to make out the picture.’ Vallone’s narrative gift–by turns lyrical, funny, and raw–combined with her newfound awareness of grace provide the ‘fusion and repair’ that renders a life whole and meaningful. Read about her life and gain new insight into yours.”

—Gregory Wolfe, editor of Image and author of Beauty Will Save the World: Recovering the Human in an Ideological Age 

“I enjoyed Pieces of Someday so much, I read it twice. The first time I inhaled it, and the second time I went back to admire the artistry and savor each scene. Jan Vallone is truly a gifted writer, and I fully enjoyed the immersion in her colorful, aromatic and poignant reflections. Her feisty spirit, probing mind, and buck-naked honesty are arresting. And her way of telling the story, folding back layers of time and perception, is captivating.”

—Barbara J. Elliott, author of Street Saints: Renewing America’s Cities

“A memoir with a lovely interfaith flavor, Pieces of Someday is a warm, loving testament to the importance of the diverse people who come into our lives and help us learn who we are and who we can become.”

—Art Feinglass, Founder and Artistic Director of the Seattle Jewish Theater Company

Jan Vallone’s memoir is something rare: a story that is deeply personal, and yet one that will resonate with countless contemporary women seeking some deeper gratification beneath the surface of success. Her candor and her pointillist’s eye for detail emerge in writing crafted with power and precision.”

—David Sobel, editor and writer, former Editorial Director of Times Books at Henry Holt and Company

“Jan Vallone’s Pieces of Someday is an exotic bouquet. Some of the flowers she offers the reader are in full bloom and fragrant with sweetness, while others are pungent with the awkward aroma of painful self-awareness. Still others wilt before our eyes. Then there are those that blossom slowly, almost imperceptibly, seemingly unbeknownst to Vallone herself. All of them are lovely in their own ways.”

—Chad Thomas Johnston, author of the memoir Nightmarriage,regular contributor to “Good Letters,” the Literary Blog of Image

“I laughed, I cried—mostly I related. Pieces of Someday is unflinching—a heart-wrenching memoir about one woman’s battle against expectations. With this book, Jan Vallone brings light into the world and shows you’ve got to believe in people.”

—Isla McKetta, Board Member of Richard Hugo House Writing Center, Literary Novelist and Reviewer of International Books

Pieces of Someday is a beautifully written account of fathers and daughters, teachers and students, successes and failures—the wonderful offspring of what Vallone calls her ‘dominant ponder gene.’ Holding up a defiant hand against the cynicism that has come to mark so much of America’s story, she insists that the greatest success may be measured, not in the things we accumulate, but in the lives we touch.”

—Les Lamkin, teacher, author of the fiction collection Happiness is a Dead Wife

Pieces of Someday invites us to savor the intimate beauty of seemingly ordinary moments and trust that all the disparate pieces of our lives and all our various wanderings can bring us personal fulfillment and also serve the world. Through her poignantly told story, Ms. Vallone demonstrates that one’s unique personal call from God is not reserved for someday, but is revealed in the everyday.”

—Fr. Mike Fones, O.P., co-director of The Catherine of Siena Institute

“A gripping and earnest account of one woman’s search for what truly matters in life.”

—Roxana Arama

“I was at once seized by this book. The story of Vallone’s life in New York, Seattle and Italy is one to which every hungry reader can relate. Vallone’s work is joyful, impassioned, and endearing; her book is truly a celebration of her life as a teacher, her reverence for tradition, and the embracing of multicultural paths.”

—Julie Greene, author of This Hunger Is Secret: My Journeys through Mental Illness and Wellness

“Vallone’s prose shifts and gleams as surely and mysteriously as kaleidoscopic light.”

—Dani Boss, teacher, author of Little America

Pieces of Someday is an irresistible and important look at one woman’s choices. From the dutiful path of Catholicism and law to the passion and emotional risk of teaching English in a yeshiva, Vallone captures the poignancy of her life with fine prose that takes the reader to the heart of each event. She is a born teacher and her writing conveys this dedication with a fluid and captivating style.”

—Ann Keeling, writer and teacher

“An authentic and inspiring memoir of love, hope and self-discovery.”

—Teresa Daggett, lawyer, Quantum Law, PLLC

“With courage and humor, Vallone tells of her struggle with prominent ideas about career, religion, beauty and gender roles. Pieces of Someday takes on the myth that life is a vector; to read it is to appreciate the beauty and imperfection of our own stained glass lives.”

—Priya Keefe, writer/performer of From the Lips of Town Criers

“In Pieces of Someday, Jan Vallone weaves vivid imagery and exquisiteturns of phrase into a winning memoir of self-discovery and hope.”

—Nita Sweeney, author of Memorial: Our Last Year on the Links

“Jan Vallone pulls our common experience into her personal memoir by weaving surprises through every chapter—some challenging, some unsettling, some smashing into truth, others gently leading to revelation.”

— Gwen Mansfield, teacher, author of Experiment Station Road

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