S.W.A.K.: A Novel of Ultimate Betrayal
By Adriana Sifakis and George Sifakis
Growing up can be a daunting proposition. Prospects for success can be bleak for those without a good support system. The only thing worse than struggling alone is facing life’s myriad challenges with a trusted companion who is secretly undermining any hard earned progress. This is the story of S.W.A.K., a riveting tale by Adriana Sifakis and George Sifakis.
Set in the not too distant past, the book chronicles the upbringing of its protagonist, Lauren Napolitano. At first glance, the Napolitano family lives a prototypical life in a normal and upwardly mobile community in “anywhere” Jersey. This façade is shattered mere pages into the book as the reader gets a first glimpse of the malevolent machinations of Lauren’s mom, known only to readers as “Ma.”
The reader will be instantly captivated at how Ma manipulates the comings and goings of this suburban community. Typically, each action yielded short-term benefits at the expense of long-term challenges for whatever member of the family it was intended to benefit. The reader can consider Ma the “anti-Stepford” as she clearly runs the family as well as surrounding neighborhood. This is perfectly captured in one scene in which Ma engaged in some particularly nasty behavior towards a neighbor she suspected of being too friendly to her husband.
There are two powerful and equally opposing forces at play in this book. On one end of the spectrum are the upward yearnings of hope coming from someone looking to find a place in the world. On the other is a force full of fear and hatred, ready to trample anything that prevents its ambitions from being met. Other family members and characters either melt or fade away at these forces are displayed by the naïve yet hopeful Lauren and the sullen and manipulative Ma.
The struggle between these two forces is what captivates the reader and keeps the pages turning at a brisk pace. The reader’s empathy for Lauren will grow with every page and by the end of the story, the reader will be praying for her to be able to extricate herself from this unnecessary hell. This is a must read for book groups looking for books that cover the topic of hope or for friends just looking to find the next captivating story.