Where My Body Ends and the World Begins (Allium Press, 2017) imagines what it might have been like for one of the survivors of a tragic fire that took place on December 1, 1958, in a Catholic school on Chicago’s west side. The fire broke out just before the end of the day at Our Lady of the Angels School and went unnoticed for a critical amount of time. Ninety-two children and three nuns were killed. The ‘Angels’ fire is still considered to be one of Chicago’s most horrendous tragedies.
In his book, author Tony Romano imagines twenty-year old Anthony Lazzaro, who along with his best friend Maryann, survived the fire. The story opens with Anthony, suffering from an unnamed mental illness. He deliberately breaks his own leg, which had started to feel foreign to his body. Lipschultz, the retired cop who lives next door, thinks Anthony may have set the fire and that his strange behavior is just another sign of his guilt. Since the fire, Anthony’s family has fallen apart – his father disappears, and his mother takes a job far from home. In this beautifully-written, sensitive novel, Tony Romano considers how trauma can be overcome through the love of family and community.