By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Feb 12, 2008 at 10:16 AM

A fellow native New Yorker friend with whom I worked for many years -- he's from Queens, but I like him anyway (hee hee) -- recently alerted me to "The Sky Isn't Visible Here," a memoir by Brooklyn gal Felicia Sullivan.

Sullivan grew up in a tougher part of Brooklyn (remember, it's a large and varied borough and if it were still an independent city, Brooklyn would be among the 10 biggest in the country) than I did and her story of growing up, unsurprisingly, is certainly less idyllic.

She grew up surrounded by drug dealers and without a father. Sullivan also was raised by a troubled mother, who hasn't been seen or heard from in 10 years.

Since she says she's always written about her mother (even in a haiku she wrote when she was 8) and their relationship, it's little surprise that the apparently inevitable "The Sky Isn't Visible Here," published by Algonquin, is hard-hitting and packed with emotion and, at times, lays bare the confusion that Sullivan feels.

"I'm afraid that writing this book has made my view of her and my upbringing more complex," Sullivan admits. "I viewed my relationship with my mother in black-and-white terms -- I didn't love her and I was never going to forgive her for stealing my childhood from me, for always putting herself before me, for choosing men over me. Meanwhile, I had also been drinking heavily, continuing my decade-long affair with alcohol."

Writing the book has helped Sullivan put things into perspective, however.

"Over the past year, I got sober and have had the advantage of clarity that sobriety can bring, to wholly understand our relationship in a way that I couldn't have before. It was if I had been sleeping for a long time and I suddenly woke up."

Sullivan visits Schwartz Bookshop, 2559 N. Downer Ave., at 7 p.m. on Thursday to read from her book. Don't miss this chance to crack open her memoir and to hear Sullivan talk about it.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.