L-Crystal Wlodek's Reviews > Penny from Heaven

Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm
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's review
Feb 26, 2010

it was amazing
bookshelves: chapter-books, award-winning-and-honor-books, historical-fiction
Read from February 20 to 26, 2010

Penny From Heaven is a Newbery Honor book and is intended for students in grades 6-8. This book is based on the author’s own Italian American family. It depicts the 1953 time period when being Italian meant you were the enemy. The book also is rich in its description of families, more specifically about the things that separate them and being them together. Penny’s life is not easy, having a father that is deceased, an uncle living in a car, and the two sides of her family not speaking to each other. Overall the book has many layers and themes including history, love, laughter, and the importance of family.

This is both a heartwarming and sad story, as many coming of age events occur for Penny. With her father being deceased, Penny is torn between her maternal side of the family and her father’s large Italian family, who is still extremely important to her. In addition, not having much money, having an uncle who lives in a car, as well as having a tragic accident happen to her forces her to grow up much faster and have maturity beyond her years. Overall, this book is very enjoyable because while it contains historical information, it pulls the reader in by being emotionally appealing. Any reader will be able to relate to this book because of the importance that is placed upon love and family, despite the difference in the time period and experiences. The author’s note at the end also greatly adds to the book.
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