When eighteen-year-old Carlo “Charlie” Bonarelli picks up the morning paper and reads news of a dead girl found in Highland Park, the sinking feeling in his gut tells him that the events of the previous night weren’t just a bad dream.
Ambivalent and slightly adrift, Charlie works part time for a local meat market—when he’s not attending classes and mistaking lust for love with the ladies. But a random late-night delivery entangles Charlie with a mysterious stranger in distress, kicking off a chain of events that lands Charlie right in the crosshairs of the police investigation into the young girl’s murder.
Thankfully, the loyal, zany Bonarelli family rallies around their boy. This includes cousin Bobo Marcantonio, an amateur boxer who appoints himself as bodyguard, and Uncle Bernard, who whisks his nephew away to the family’s mountain hideaway when Charlie’s understanding of—and role in—the girl’s murder and its aftermath becomes clearer.
Equal parts coming-of-age tale, crime drama, and touching family saga, Being Bonarelli perfectly captures the angst, exhilaration, and uncertainty of growing up in an Italian-American family on Denver’s north side in the 1950s.