Jan 18, 2010

Book Review: The Youngest Son by Oreste LeRoy Salerni

The Youngest Son, Memoirs from the Motherland

The Youngest Son: Memoirs from the Homeland is more than a diary of a professor in a foreign land. Written from the heart with a good dose of humor, this memoir recounts a very special and wonderful time in Oreste LeRoy Salerni's life – a pilgrimage to the motherland.

The book is the product of a 6 ½ month sabbatical in Italy at the University of Pisa, which was a way for Salerni to pay tribute to his Italian immigrant parents. The completed sabbatical marked the fulfillment of a dream, full of joys, anxieties, travels, new friends, humor and the frustrations the Italian bureaucracy had with him.

About the author: Oreste LeRoy Salerni, the youngest son of Italian immigrants was born in Bolivar, Pennsylvania. He received his BS and his MS degrees from Duquesne University and his Ph.D from the University of Illinois, Chicago. He was...Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Butler University College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, Indianapolis, for 36 years. Salerni and his wife, Marti, reside in Bradenton, Florida, not far from Pirate City, the spring-training site of the Pirates. Pages: 374" (from the publisher: Peppertree Press)

My comments: This is a delightful and informative account of Prof. Salerni's six months sabbatical at the University of Pisa in Tuscany, where he lectured, wrote research papers, and helped to edit scholarly publications in his field of pharmacy and medicinal chemistry. He and his wife Marti made numerous trips to other parts of Italy to visit relatives, sightsee, and to act as host to many visitors from the U.S.

I learned a lot about the cities in Tuscany - the mountain top villages in Abruzzo where Oreste Salerni's parents were born, and the little town of Marlia near Pisa where the Salerni's lived during the sabattical. The travel memoir also took you to Florence, Siena, south to Naples and the Amalfi coast, and further south to Sicily.

Half of the book is about his experiences as a visiting professor at the University of Pisa, where he made many friends among professors and students alike. Throughout the book are references to friendly people, the food of Italy, and the hospitality he enjoyed, even from strangers.

I came away with a vision of a country with good food and a lot to see - historical buildings, countless churches and Roman ruins, breathtaking scenery. Oreste Salerni did a superb  job of selling his parents' native country, giving wonderful descriptions and detailed information from his diary. He based his book on a journal he kept of his sabattical in Italy.

I love traveling and this book satisfied my curiousity about parts of Italy I've never seen as well as my love of a good narrative.

Thanks to Paula and Peppertree Press for the review copy of this book.

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Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge; Chill Baby, Chill! review challenge


  1. I'm a sucker for all things Italy. I'll have to look for this one.

  2. Sounds like an enjoyable book. I would love to travel more, but have to settle for visiting places through books these days.

  3. I love traveling and memoirs - this sounds really good! Thanks for the thorough and insightful review -


  4. Italy is a country that I would love to visit and I envy the length of time this person had to enjoy and really soak up the culture and way of life!

  5. I have just finished a memoir/travel book on Italy as well - he settled in Modena because he wanted to live in the place with the best food! It's called Never Trust a Thin Cook. My review is here: http://mentalfoodie.blogspot.com/2010/01/book-review-never-trust-thin-cook-and.html

  6. Hi, Harvee! Tuscany would be the perfect place to take your sabbatical. Come to think of it, Tuscany is the perfect place for anything! It has always been my dream to go to Tuscany. (I absolutely loved Under the Tuscan Sun.) I hope that this book would be sold in Manila.

  7. Yes I've noticed many of the books you read higlight places so I assume you must have travelled a lot. Have you ever been to the Philippines? Italy is also a place I'd love to see one day :)

  8. Good review, I love the memoir. Thanks for telling us about this book and author.

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  10. This sounds like an interesting book. Thanks for the review.


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