Five-Finger Discount: A Crooked Family History

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By Steven (The United States) · ★★☆☆☆ · September 29, 2012
Great title. Some excellent material, but it never quite paid off the way I hoped it might. Of course, it's 'true,' so there's that. But the jacket includes so many rave reviews that they oversell the book. The comparison to Angela's Ashes was impossible for this book to survive.

Knowing little a... ...more
By Adrian (Edmonton, AB, Canada) · April 23, 2013
Provides a lot of good information about the politics of New Jersey in particular about Jersey City. Run by tyrannical Frank Hague for thirty years (1917-1947) the tie between local politics and the mob becomes clear. Author also details the history of her family a good portion of whom were on th... ...more
By Sunny (Euclid, OH) · ★★★★☆ · September 09, 2014

Helene's got baggage in her family tree-and it's mostly stolen. In this book, she unfolds memories of her grandfather, a petty criminal, within the larger context of the criminally-minded culture of Jersey City, New Jersey.

A story about just Helene's grandfather would have few punchline... ...more
By Rick (The United States) · ★★★☆☆ · March 25, 2012
Helene Stapinski definitely comes from a colorful Jersey City family. This book describes some of those characters----including her Grandpa, probably the one member of the family that could be described as truly evil, after he tries to kill his daughter and grandchildren. Stapinski eventually is... ...more
By Kristen (Brooklyn, NY) · ★★☆☆☆ · February 14, 2008
I thought that the narration was confused--at times it seems to be a history of the politics and corruption of Jersey City, then it would go into personal family history, and then especially towards the end how embarrassing it was to have so many criminals in the family once it was the author's p... ...more
By Robin (The United States) · ★☆☆☆☆ · January 17, 2010
It was a good premise and she writes well, but she was not a criminal. I thought there would be something juicy. Boring!! Just a memoir but not very interesting. You think she's leading up to something with her family history and she's just a regular person. WHich is good, but doesn't make for an... ...more
By Ken (Montclair, NJ) · ★★☆☆☆ · August 21, 2014
This is my pet peeve book. I grew up in Jersey City around the same time as the author (full disclosure: she did research at the library I was working in at the time and even thanks me in the acknowledgements). My family was not as colorful as hers, I have to say. She tells a good story, but I br... ...more
By Alger (Alexandria, VA) · ★★★☆☆ · February 01, 2014
This book lacks whatever that particular something is that makes the occasional family memoir great. Instead this is a collection of chronologically organized family stories that are interesting at points but that serve mostly as filler between the highlights.
The real heart of the book is the aut... ...more
By Jennifer (JC-S) (Australia) · ★★★☆☆ · September 28, 2010
‘I stole. But in a socially acceptable way.’

This interesting memoir by Helene Stapinski is her account of what it was like to grow up in Jersey City during the 1970s and 1980s. If Jersey City was well known for corruption during this period, then many members of Helene Stapinski’s family would ha... ...more