Being a Newbery Honor book, I had to give this book a read. I definitely wasn't disappointed! This was a beautifully written coming-of-age story that children and young adults will be able to enjoy for years to come. Jennifer Holm, author of the Newbery Award winning book, Our May Amelia, is back with another lovely book about children growing up faster than they should have too, but enjoying themselves on the journey.
Penny, a half-Italian girl living with her mother and grandparents in New Jersey, longs to know more about what happened to her father. Her died when she was very young and her mother never speaks of him. The only time Penny is able to hear his name mentioned is when she is over at her Italian grandparents house, where her myriad of Aunts, Uncles, and cousins never fail to talk about her dad. Penny loves spending time in this boisterous household where food is always delicious and her best friend and cousin Frankie spends most of his time.
Unfortunately, Penny's mother doesn't get along with her in-laws and doesn't like Penny spending all of her time over there. As her mother begins dating, Penny tries to break up the dates in order to matchmake between her mother and her father's brother, Dominic. Penny, more than anything, wants her two families to love each other as she loves them. After a tragic accident that puts the use of Penny's arm in jeopardy, the true colors of her family members really begin to shine.
Set in the 1950's this book is so much more than family problems. It has exciting baseball games, friendships, and a mystery of buried treasure. The characters are incredibly real and lovable. Uncle Dominic was probably my favorite of the cast, because of his quirkiness and mystery. This is a true gem of a book.