Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

Parents' Choice Awards : Books : Historical Fiction
Take Me With You

Take Me With You

Spring 2010 Historical Fiction
Ages: 10 & Up
Author: Carolyn Marsden
Publisher: Candlewick Press
ISBN: 9780763637392
Hardcover Price: $14.99

Pina and Susanna have always been best friends, and family, too, since they live together at the Neapolitan home for abandoned children. But now that World War II is over, their friendship might be threatened. Susanna, child of an American nero soldier, has always been teased for her brown skin; but now her American father has contacted her and might want to take her away from Pina and back to his own family. In the meantime, blond Pina, who always charms prospective adopting couples, never seems to get adopted herself. Pina can't bear the thought that Susanna might leave her, alone and without family. If Susanna has a father, then she, Pina, must learn about her mother-and Susanna must help her, even if it means breaking the nuns' rules.

Marsden based her story on the recollections of an Italian friend who was raised in a similar home for wartime orphans. Young readers who are interested in World War II, and in "true stories," will be interested by this slice of life, which is often absent from classroom history books. However, this novel is not a factual representation of post-World War II society in Italy, or about the struggles of mixed-race wartime orphans; it is about the experiences of wanting a family and the difficulty of coming to terms with parents who are in some way unsatisfying. As such, it follows a classic and rewarding theme of children's literature. Marsden's strength is less in the plot of Pina and Susanna scheming to find Pina's mother than in the attention she gives to characterization, tracing the conflicting emotions of both girls as they make discoveries about their families.

Naomi Lesley   ©2010 Parents' Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.

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