Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar

a captivating true story that will speak to generations…

Finalist – Qld Premier’s Award for a Work of State Significance


Shortlisted – People’s Choice Qld Book of the Year


‘Nonno Anni gives me a nudge. “You know, when I first came to Australia, I knew that my life would change forever.”

When fifteen-year-old Annibale Boccabella left his small village of Fossa in Italy in 1939 to meet a father he barely remembered on the other side of the world, he arrived in Australia determined to make the most of every opportunity. Life was tough but you could still chase your dreams.

More than 70 years later, Zoë Boccabella and her family hurriedly try to save the property of Annibale and his wife, Francesca, from the rising floodwaters that hit Brisbane in 2011. When Zoë sees the sign from her grandparents’ fruit shop and milk bar about to disappear beneath the unstoppable water, she is hit by a realisation: while she has long looked to Italy to discover her migrant heritage, much of that story lies in Australia.

In Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar, Zoë pieces together her grandparents’ childhoods in poverty-stricken but loving homes, following them on their fateful, independent journeys from the Abruzzo and Calabria in Italy to the farmlands and canefields of Queensland, where hard work, challenge and internment camps awaited. But it is a journey of ups as well as downs — shared pleasures, weddings, reunions, work at a Greek café and ultimately the fruit shop and milk bar that was the focus of a family’s hopes and dreams for the future.


With memorable, beautifully portrayed characters, evocative writing and great storytelling, Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar embraces the experience of so many and will touch your heart and remind you of the important things in life.


Available in  paperback, e-book and audio book.
Check for prices and availability…

Bolinda Audio BooksABC BooksHarperCollins


Praise for Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar….

Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar – top ten best reads of 2015.”

Annette Marfording. Rochford Street Review. Full Review.
Journal of Australian and International Cultural Reviews, News and Criticism.

“The strength of the book is the effective simplicity of the writing and the poignant immediacy of its images – old glasses, folded sheets and milk bar signs from another age that conjure the past so clearly for the author and the reader.”

Steven Carroll, Sydney Morning HeraldFull review. 

“The manner in which this book is written is absolutely beautiful… a wonderful read.”

David Curnow, ABC Brisbane. 

“Writer Zoë Boccabella has delved into her family’s own rich story… pieced together from listening to three decades of her grandparents’ incredible stories… A great story that will connect with so many people.”

Natasha Mitchell, Life Matters program.

“Zoë Boccabella has written a beautiful book… it’s a universal story and one that resonates across the extraordinary Italian communities… and I’m sure will be much sought after.”

Jon Faine, The Conversation Hour.

“In every part of the book, the author’s extensive research is in evidence. Yet she has successfully incorporated her findings into a story, showing rather than telling.”

Debbie Terranova, books and indie publishing.

“Zoë is a natural storyteller who emotionally engages the reader through her empathy and familiarity with her characters and her ability to breathe vivid life and warmth into a family’s history… Joe’s Fruit Shop & Milk Bar is a book to treasure, a treat not only for those with Italian ancestry or fans of her wonderful first book Mezza Italiana, but also for those who simply believe that humility and practicing right from wrong should be our common bond and aspiration. “

Sam Dunham, Life in Abruzzo.

“This is a wonderful migrant’s tale. Zoë Boccabella evocatively tells her family story of 70 years and more… Many Australians will relate to these experiences and will enjoy this story.”

F.J. O’Dwyer, The Chronicle.

“From the very first chapters of Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar, Zoë Boccabella’s evocative storytelling captivates, transporting readers… Filled with poignant reminiscence and real-life drama, Boccabella’s sweeping family saga draws you in like an Italian nonna’s embrace.”

Jacqueline Forster, Organic Gardener magazine. Full review.

“The sights, sounds and tastes are vividly described… Zoë’s evocative writing style lends itself perfectly to this touching family memoir.”

Lisa Tisdell, Port Macquarie News.

“A sweeping true story about history and memory that journeys from 1930s Italy to the Queensland cane fields and the Brisbane Floods.”

WHO Magazine.

A must read… This week we are loving the heart-warming migrant’s tale, Joe’s Fruit Shop and Milk Bar. Brisbane author, Zoë Boccabella delves into her family history, weaving her own experiences with those of her Italian-born grandparents.”

Brisbane News.

 “Book of the Week.” Evenings with Dominic Knight.

Goodreads reviews          Amazon reviews

Brisbane News article     SMH weekly pic     TCM article           

Natasha Mitchell talks to Zoë on Radio National’s, Life Matters  {includes music, Va Pensiero}…  to listen

 ABC-LogoABC Overnights with Trevor Chappell – interview and talkback as listeners share their milk bar stories…  to listen

abruzzo_blogger_communityLife in Abruzzo presents ‘Nonni through the eyes of their grandchildren’ – My Nonni From Abruzzo…  read full article

 ABC-LogoInterview on The Conversation Hour with Jon Faine…  to listen

ABC-LogoThe Main Ingredient with Kelli Brett…  to listen

History of Family Kept Inside Book…  read full article


parliament house author lunch

Literary Luncheon Talk
Zoë Boccabella

NSW Parliament House, 20th May, 2015
Horizon Committee Annual Authors Lunch
supporting the Royal Institute for Deaf and Blind Children.

 An Evening Talk with Zoë Boccabella

Sydney, 11th March, 2015
Leichhardt Library,

Piazza level – Italian Forum


Beaumaris inviteAn Evening with Zoë Boccabella

Melbourne, 10th March, 2015
Malt Café – Beaumaris Books
{Ticketed event – includes dinner.}


Invitation to book launch

Author Event with Zoë Boccabella

Brisbane, 12th February, 2015
Mary Ryan’s Bookshop and Café