Songs from Home

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More About This Book

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Eleven-year-old Anna and her father, Americans, are street musicians in Rome: they sing melancholy ``songs from home'' for tourists-then pass around the beret. The two have lived hand-to-mouth for many years, ever since Papa, for reasons that have never been clear, left the States with Anna after Anna's mother died. Anna is deeply attached to her father, but is weary of living in a succession of miserable pensions, concealing her shabby circumstances from her schoolmates and having to assume adult responsibilities. Through a supportive classmate who, like Anna, knows what it is like to lie out of shame, and through an American friend who has come to Rome in search of them, Anna finds the strength and the means to claim a home in the States-without her father. The author of many picture books, Goodman, in her first novel, perceptively conveys Anna's conflicting feelings. The prose, while in the third person, grows out of the unique perspective of a girl who has never really known childhood yet who has not lost her innocence. Anna is consistently likable, clever and smart, a poignant contrast to mercurial Papa. A few too many coincidences keep the tale from being entirely believable, but Goodman's wistful heroine and the dynamic setting are memorable. Ages 10-14. (Oct.)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Ever since the tragic death of her mother many years ago, Anna Hopkins, 11, and her wistful father, Stephen, have been wandering about Europe, finding work and lodging as they go. Now it is 1969, and by day Anna is a grade-school student on the outskirts of Rome. By night, however, she and her father are street singers, dressed in threadbare clothing and begging among the restaurant tables of the city, then returning to the cheap, run-down pensione they call home. Anna is ashamed of their transient life and longs for a real home and family, like that of her school friend Fiorella. She confides in the pensione's gentle cook, Maria, that she is greatly drawn by an image of America gleaned from her father's rare stories of his bygone youth. But complex Stephen, much as he loves his sensitive daughter, is unable to face the ghosts of his past or look for a steady job. Just as he is planning yet another move-this time to Greece-a chance encounter with an old friend from Missouri turns their fragile world upside down. Goodman creates a palpable sense of place, weaving Italian sights, foods, customs, and language seamlessly into a story that has enough tension to keep readers involved. It will appeal to fans of another tale of life on the run, Amy Ehrlich's Where It Stops, Nobody Knows (Dial, 1988).-Susan W. Hunter, Riverside Middle School, Springfield, VT
Chris Sherman
For the past 10 years, Anna Hopkins and her father, Stephen, have lived in Europe, most recently in Rome, eking out a living singing for tips in restaurants. Now that Anna is nearly 12, she yearns for a real home, stability, and the family she has never known. She cannot understand her father's stubborn refusal to hold a regular job or to tell her about her mother, who died when she was a baby. When the father and daughter unexpectedly meet an old family friend, Anna learns the truth about her parents and forces her father to make some difficult decisions about their future. Goodman's first novel for young adults will appeal for many reasons. Anna is a sympathetic character, and although she seems much older than her years, she shares many teens' concern about being accepted and belonging. Goodman's description of Rome is so vivid readers will almost be able to smell the garlic and feel the cobblestones. Even the bittersweet ending is realistic: Anna will return to Missouri to live with her grandparents, while Stephen, still unable to accept his wife's death, will continue to roam around Europe.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780152035907
  • Publisher: Harcourt Children's Books
  • Publication date: 10/1/1994
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 224
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Product dimensions: 4.34 (w) x 7.09 (h) x 0.73 (d)

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