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Five-Finger Discount

With deadpan humor and obvious affection, Five-Finger Discount recounts the story of an unforgettable New Jersey family of swindlers, bookies, embezzlers, and mobster-wannabes. In the memoir that reviewer Mary Karr calls “a page-turner,” Helene Stapinski ingeniously weaves the checkered history of her hometown of Jersey City– a place known for its political corruption and industrial blight– with the tales that have swirled around her relatives for decades. Navigating a childhood of toxic waste and tough love, Stapinski tells an extraordinary tale at once heartbreaking and hysterically funny.

Reviews of

[The] unsentimental, unapologetic, and bracingly nonwhining tone isn’t the only thing that sets Five-Finger Discount apart from the typical memoir of familial dysfunction. Ms. Stapinski simply has better material than your average blabbermouth. . . . Most important, Helene Stapinski has Jersey City in all its grimy glory. The Wall Street Journal

A book teeming with unruly life. That is, with laughter, violence, early death, buried histories, and much larceny. The reader will never look at New Jersey again in the same way.

Pete Hamill

This quirky memoir begins, quite literally, with a bang. . . . Stapinski feels an obvious affection for her crooked clan, and there’s some real humor in their vividly remembered misdeeds.

Entertainment Weekly

Stapinski captures the street-level conviviality of the urban working class while unveiling the mob mentality hedonism, desperation, and violence lurking underneath. Village Voice

Blending the personal and political in sparse prose, it’s an unassuming book that sneaks up on readers, even those who have never seen Jersey City.

USA Today