A. J. Degulio loved the idea of a visit to the Old Country… until her family decided to stay. It’s 1972 and she’s turning fourteen in a crumbling castle on a hill in Tuscany, wishing she were back in Idaho with her beloved dog, Sailor. In Italy, her blonde hair makes her stick out like a vanilla wafer in a box of chocolate biscotti, and she’s so lonely her best friend is a nun from the local convent.
The challenges of roots and relatives are nothing new to A. J., but she’s going to need more than the famous Degulio sense of humor to survive. Can’t anyone see that Italy isn’t really home? It will take a catastrophe – and a few wise words from a friend – for A. J. to understand that sometimes the only thing you can change is your perspective.
My two cents worth:
Hilarious, light-hearted, and fun -this book is a beautiful story about family, faith, and fortuno. Renne Riva certainly blends a pot full of different elements to create this lively story that brings A.J. into adulthood. The essence of family and the atmosphere of this overwhelmingly Italian family at that, makes me want to visit a crumbling castle in Tuscany too. Riva created such hilarious and quirky characters, especially A.J.’s mom, grandma, and Uncle Nick, that I was in stitches almost every scene. A.J.’s father and her penpal boy-friend (boy + friend, not boyfriend – yet ;-), Danny, are the only ‘normal’ people in her life.
I know, I know – what is normal? Well, I don’t think having a mother who impersonates Sophia Loren, a sister who is a model in Milan, a grandma who talks to statues and wishes people would die, and a friend – who is a twelve year old in a nun’s body, is anything remotely close to normal – but a fantastic mix of memorable, hysterical characters.
Add to that a fourteen year old who is living in an ancient – somewhat dilapitated – old castle in Tuscany when she’d rather be back in Idaho and you have the setting, plot, and humor of Riva’s sequel to Saving Sailor.
I can’t wait to find out what happens to A.J. when she returns to the states and meets up with Danny again…and I can’t wait to hear more fomr Renee Riva and her wonderfully vibrant writing style.