Kristen's Reviews > Penny from Heaven

Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm
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's review
May 06, 2008

really liked it
bookshelves: mostly-ya-some-juvenile
Recommended for: Ages 10-15
Read in April, 2008

I checked this book out because it was by the same woman who wrote "Our Only May Amelia." I enjoyed it a lot, though it wasn't as good as "Amelia."

Penny is growing up in New Jersey in the early 50s. Her Italian father died when she was small, and the two sides of her family have nothing to do with each other. Still, her mother allows her to maintain a steady relation with the Falucci relations, including Sunday dinners with Nonny, working at her Uncle's butcher shop, and being best friends with her cousin Frankie. Her mom used to be a nurse, and polio is a realy threat, so she is not allowed to go to the swimming pool or the movies, since it's rumored that's how kids catch it. So all during the long, hot summer she's not able to swim, and can only console herself with butter pecan ice cream, her favorite.

There is an underlying mystery as to how and why her father died, why the families don't get along, and why her Uncle Dominic chooses to live in his car and wears only bedroom slippers. I was greatly amused by Penny's dog, who is named Scarlett O'Hara, and being very elderly, tends to piddle on everything at the most inopportune moments. Penny also faces the prospect of her mother finally dating again, and even though she previously liked Patrick, the milk man, she can't stomach the thought of him as a father. She shows her feelings the way any kid would, by being sulky and subtly rude.

Then something happens that changes the whole summer, not just for Penny, but for her whole extended family.

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