Her family struggles to cope with Franny’s depression. Eventually Franny exits her room, but she is no longer the cheerful, friendly girl she once was. Her mother, in a last ditch effort to help her daughter, finds an article in a magazine about a famous shoe designer from Italy. She sends the designer a letter requesting his help in making a pair of shoes for Franny. When he invites Franny to Italy, the girl begins a journey of self-discovery that will change how she views herself.
The Lovely Shoes by Susan Shreve poignantly captures the pain of adolescence and the perceived ostracism of being different. Although the book is intended for grades 4-7, the book is better suited to 7-9th grades, as it deals with some themes an elementary student will not relate to.
The snippets of Italian culture and 1950s nostalgia add interesting touches for the curious reader. Humor brightens the book and lends perspective, all while Shreve captures spot-on the attitudes and feelings of the young adolescent. Perhaps this story rings so true because the book is based on Shreve’s own experiences growing up as a polio survivor. A touching story of family, love, fashion and growing up.