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Take Me with You Hardcover – March 23, 2010

3.4 out of 5 stars 8 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 5–8—In this post-World War II novel set in Italy, Susanna and Pina, both 11, have lived at a Catholic orphanage since they were infants. Although the girls consider themselves sorelle (sisters), they still long to be part of a family. Susanna, a mixed-race girl, is sure that high-spirited Pina will be adopted quickly because of her golden beauty, and she is keenly aware that she is unlikely to be chosen. Both girls are shocked to discover that each of them has a living parent. Susanna receives a letter from a black American sailor who suspects he's her father. There are hints that her mother was a prostitute. After a few awkward meetings, she begins to warm up to this earnest man who is determined to bring her up in the U.S. Pina discovers that her mother lives nearby and although she has never visited, she has not relinquished her parental rights. Pina makes a couple of desperate visits to her, but is repeatedly rebuffed. Her mother explains, "I was too young…only sixteen," and she is afraid to reveal her daughter's existence to her husband. After a series of heartrending encounters, she finally frees the girl for adoption. Marsden does an excellent job of creating an unsentimental picture of institutional life where affection from adults is rare, and luxuries even rarer. She unflinchingly presents painful experiences that some adoptees face, such as abandonment, racism, and rejection. Although the ending is ambiguous, it hints that both girls will join loving families. This compelling story will likely appeal to a broad audience.—Deborah Vose, Highlands Elementary School, Braintree, MA
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Marsden, who has written about children in Asia and Africa, now goes somewhere different, both in place and time: Italy after World War II. Pina and Susanna have lived at their Naples orphanage since they were babies. Best friends, they tolerate the nuns, find pleasure where they can, and hope fervently that one day they’ll be adopted into loving families. Pina, pretty and blond, should have been adopted long ago. She is sure the nuns tell prospective parents she is bad. Susanna has her own challenge. She is the daughter of an Italian woman and a black American sailor, a nero; no one looks like her. Then two very different parents come into the girls’ lives. One appears, the other is found, and both satisfy the girls’ dreams in unexpected ways. Marsden often puts crafts like sewing or crocheting into her stories, and in many respects she is like a master craftsman, using words instead of stitches for her deceptively simple design. The embellishments come in the details of life in the orphanage, on the street, and with the particulars of religious life. There is even a touch of mysticism when the orphans attend a mass conducted by the sainted Padre Pio. Perhaps it is he who performs Pina’s miracle; in any case his well-known philosophic statement beautifully sums up this book: “Pray, hope, and don’t worry.” Grades 4-7. --Ilene Cooper
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 640L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; 1 edition (March 23, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0763637394
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763637392
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 0.9 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,643,463 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Tanenbaum VINE VOICE on July 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Carolyn Marsden is well known for her middle-grade novels set in other countries or focusing on multi-cultural themes. In her newest novel, she takes us to Naples, Italy, a few years after the end of World War II, where Pina and Susanna are best friends who have lived together since they were babies in a Catholic orphanage. Both girls believe they are orphans, and hope with all their heart to be adopted. A nice family is sure to adopt the beautiful Pina, with her golden hair and creamy skin. But who will want Susanna, a mulatta, or mixed-race child, whose father must have been a black American soldier. Perhaps La Befana, an angel who hides presents on Three Kings' Day, will grant her wish for parents to adopt her.

Imagine Susanna's surprise when Sister Anna calls her into her office one day and tells her that she's received a letter from a man who may be her father. An American sailor, he is on a "tour of duty." Will he come soon? Pina, too, is in for a surprise, when she discovers that her mother is indeed alive, and living in right there in Naples. Whose parent will show up? Will the two friends have to abandon one another? Will both girls find the loving families they deserve?

This bittersweet tale of two Italian orphans will capture the hearts of middle-grade readers, particularly girls who are drawn to orphan stories. Marsden captures for young readers the atmosphere of the Italian orphanage, with its (mostly) kindly black-garbed nuns who drag the girls around Naples to sing for funerals and teach them to crochet blankets, which are sold to support the orphanage. Life is not all drudgery, however, with outings to the movies and to the beach also described.
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Format: Hardcover
Best friends Susanna and Pina have spent most of their young lives at a Catholic orphanage in Naples, Italy. They are among the many unwanted and orphaned girls who were left there following the horrors of World War II. They know nothing about their origins or family roots, and have no idea who their parents are or if they're even still alive. The nuns running the orphanage do suspect that Susanna's father was an African American in the military due to her dark skin. Pina is blond, light-skinned, and has blue eyes, but that difference doesn't matter to them. Both dream and pray of being adopted and having a real family to love.

The girls then each receive some shocking news. An American sends a letter asking about Susanna, who he thinks may be his daughter. Susanna is thrilled and terrified at the same time, and burning with questions. Why did he take so long to find her? Who is her mother, and what happened to her? Will he take her with him to make a family? But if he does, then she would have to leave Pina.

Meanwhile, Susanna overhears the nuns talking, and it turns out that Pina has a mother living in the city. Questions plague her as well. If her mother is alive, why is Pina in an orphanage? Doesn't she love her? Who is her father? The best friends decide to help each other find their path to their families and fulfill their dreams of being loved.

Carolyn Marsden has written quite a few books for young people and has won her fair share of awards. TAKE ME WITH YOU, a captivating story with a solid core, is sure to be another winner. Marsden excels at beautiful yet simple descriptions that really capture her ideas perfectly ("She struggled to sort through her feelings, but they were as tangled as the noodles in a pot of spaghetti.").
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Format: Hardcover
A quick read on the book list for the historical fiction month of a YA literature class that I am taking. Two girls are in an Italian orphanage. One wants to find her mother, one her father, a GI fighting the war. This is a quick read and shows the burning desire of young girls to have a feeling of identity and self.
[...]
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Format: Hardcover
This book provides a poignant story of friendship and the longing to be part of a family, which both girls in the story share. The orphanage is a captivating setting and the historical context of post WW2 and its consequences is a bonus.
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