I was enticed to read this book, American Gypsy, by Oksana Marafioti,  after the Rose Marks trial. Marks was from an infamous Romani family who had repeatedly been charged and now found guilty of fraud due to their psychic-related business dealings.

I didn’t know if this book had anything regarding the Romani [Gypsy] culture but I was interested in why Rose’s greatest fear was not being able to provide for her family and her loss of freedom in jail.

I did find some understanding here and it was a fun and enjoyable read as well.

Regarding the psychic issues: The writer’s mother can read coffee grounds as prophecy. She was encouraged to use this skill when money was tight and it worked. The author admits that the readings were more like psychotherapy, where people just needed to talk to feel better.

The author’s stepmother runs a business as a tarot card reader. Her father does healings on occasion and even in one place in the book, performs an exorcism that scars the author against the occult dealings. It was a powerful description. All the while there is a confusing sense of whether the people BELIEVE in spirits or not. They certainly understand that at times mental Hell and literal Hell were hard to distinguish. Sometimes, they clearly do and other times, they seem wise enough to see other explanations clearly. The bad feelings that lurk in the corners of the house could be caused by those troubled people who leave darkness there behind them or from the emotional turmoil of the people living in the house. I am still missing the key to understanding what psychic powers mean to the Rom but this was valuable information to have.

The book is mostly about family that drives you mad with conflicting emotion, about growing up and about independence and feeling trapped. I really enjoyed it and I thank the author for this piece. It must have been difficult to write. Recommended.

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