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A Girl Returned

4.09  ·  Rating details ·  14,204 ratings  ·  1,518 reviews
Told with an immediacy and a rare expressive intensity that has earned it countless adoring readers and one of Italy’s most prestigious literary prizes, A Girl Returned marks the English-language debut of an extraordinary literary talent. Set against the stark, beautiful landscape of Abruzzo in central Italy, this is a compelling story about mothers and daughters, about re ...more
Paperback, 170 pages
Published July 12th 2019 by Europa Editions (first published February 14th 2017)
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Agnes the book is from an italian author, but i guess there's a large english speaking audience that read the book and is reviewing it using their native la…morethe book is from an italian author, but i guess there's a large english speaking audience that read the book and is reviewing it using their native language(less)
Nickelini That of course depends on the maturity of your daughter, and your views as a parent. I think some 13 year olds would be perfectly fine with this. I wo…moreThat of course depends on the maturity of your daughter, and your views as a parent. I think some 13 year olds would be perfectly fine with this. I would have, at that age. But I can think of others who wouldn't be. It's not YA. (less)

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Average rating 4.09  · 
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Jim Fonseca
Apr 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A 14-year old girl has a normal upbringing with a middle-class family in a small city on the coast of Italy. She had been adopted as an infant by a cousin of her biological mother. The cousin wanted a girl but couldn’t have children. Without any explanation she is suddenly uprooted, returned to her biological mother and father, and has no further contact with the parents who brought her up. No one will tell her anything. She writes letters to her old parents that are unanswered. Her new schoolma ...more
Angela M
Jun 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars rounding up
The girl is sent from a comfortable life with parents who weren’t really hers and returned to the family that was hers by blood, to a home very different from the one in which she was raised, a home of dysfunction and discomfort, where slaps were plentiful but not food. She is sent back without knowing why and the truth is not known to her until close to the end. It’s not difficult to feel her heartbreak and confusion, sense of loss and identity. The unnamed narrator was 13
...more
s.penkevich
May 27, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to s.penkevich by: luce ❀ wishfully reading ❀ semi hiatus
Shelves: sisters, family, italy
I was the arminuta, the one who was returned.

I have just closed the final pages of A Girl Returned by Donatella Di Pietrantonio and let me tell you, I am feeling all the feelings. It is the story of a young girl who, for reasons unknown to her, is suddenly thrust out of her life in the city and returned to live with a rural family she discovers are actually her real parents. Set in 1975, the narrator reflects back 20 years later on her life with this family where slaps outweigh tenderness, lif
...more
Elyse  Walters
Jun 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction, europe, women
Update....THE REVIEW...... ( Sunday morning - Sunshine in Northern California)

The year was 1975. A small town in Italy.
Yet.....this story is being told 20 years later....looking back on a childhood. It’s a thin quiet introspective novel. Very heartfelt story.

She was thirteen. We never learn her name.
She didn’t know her other mother, the mother who conceived her.
A distant uncle dropped the girl off with her biological mother and their family. The uncle explained that they - he and his wife, Ad
...more
Sujoya
Mar 07, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
4.5⭐️

On an August afternoon in 1975, a thirteen-year-old girl (our narrator) drags a suitcase up the stairs to an apartment belonging to her biological parents. She is 'returned' to her family by her adoptive parents, the only family she has ever known and whom she believed to be her true parents. This family, this apartment just a bus ride away from her seaside home and her new siblings are all alien to her. This family is related to her adoptive father and she was adopted by Signora Adalgisa w
...more
Ines
Jul 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I was the Arminuta, the girl returned. I spoke another language, I no longer knew who I belonged to. The word ‘mama’ stuck in my throat like a toad. And, nowadays, I really have no idea what kind of place mother is. It is not mine in the way one might have good health, a safe place, certainty.”

I finished a few hours ago to read this book, read it exactly in a day, and it is there nailed in my mind...... I remember very well when it came out in Italy and the many heated discussions that followed
...more
JimZ
Dec 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars bumped up to 5 stars resulting in the last two books I have read rated as 5-star material. 😲 Gadzooks!

I read this because as per usual a Goodreads friend liked it a lot and I liked that person’s review so I put it on my TBR list. Which brings to mind this: I am not sure I have ever read a review in which the person said that what they read was from their TBR list. Which also brings to mind this: in what format do you keep your TBR list? Let me know….I am curious about other reader’s ha
...more
luce ❀ wishfully reading ❀ semi hiatus
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In spite of its short length Arminuta packs a real punch. I was almost hypnotised by its incredibly unsentimental narrative. Although Di Pietrantonio uses a seemingly direct and unadorned language, she's able to brilliantly evoke the narrator's world. However stark and unpleasant, everything was depicted in such a sharp and vivid way that I was entranced even by those scenes which held no beauty.
The intensity of the narrator's account of her 'return' is striki
...more
Charles
May 23, 2022 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Charles by: Ebba Simone
A Girl Returned quickly builds a little world out of thin air and from that point on sticks to an economy of words that serves it well. A nameless girl – the Arminuta, the girl returned – is sent back to her birth parents for no apparent reason after having been adopted years before as a baby, leaving her shocked and incredulous. As this new life must yet resume, short but evocative chapters chronicle her way into an Italian countryside of modest means, occasionally treating the reader to beachf ...more
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I read this on a whim after comparing books I could get in Hoopla with the Tournament of Books longlist and loved it! It's about a 13 year old who is suddenly returned to her much poorer birth family and has no idea why, and forced to navigate siblings, work, all while feeling rejected and grieving her former life. The comparisons to Ferrante are warranted for once, and not only that they share a translator. I hope we see more from this author in the future! ...more
Ebba Simone
May 28, 2022 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviews
Imagine you are a girl. You have a name but it is unknown to us. You were adopted by a distant cousin of your father when you were a baby (6 months old), you have very good grades, you have a secure life, you go to dance class etc. You are priviliged. You have a best friend named Patrizia and you live in a nice house with your adoptive parents. Now you are aged 13 and being returned by your adoptive parents to your birth parents and you have no idea why.

The writing is good. The novel captiving.
...more
Fran
May 08, 2019 rated it liked it
In 1975, "I was the Arminuta, the girl returned." A thirteen year old girl once lived near the sea in Southern Italy. "From my house near the beach, you could hear the sound of the waves." Fish dinners eaten in the garden and walks to the ice cream shop were commonplace. She attended swimming lessons and dancing school. Her best friend was Patrizia. One day without warning, her parents said, "I'm sorry, but we can't keep you anymore..." She was whisked away to the country, to the chaotic home of ...more
Lisa
Nov 23, 2020 rated it really liked it
[4+] This short novel starts bleakly - a young girl is forced to leave the home she has always known without understanding the reasons. Yet it is not a tragic novel. I was captivated by the narrator's perspective of her new family- particularly the tender relationship with her sister. I would love to read more by DiPietrantonio - and will read anything translated by Ann Goldstein! ...more
lucky little cat
The perfect antidote for those of us suffering from My Brilliant Friend withdrawal.


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I'm grateful that this a short book, because I could not stop reading it and was utterly useless for most of the day until I'd finished. And now I don't want to read anything else for a while. It's like when you've had a really good piece of chocolate.

3.75 hours
180 w/m
...more
Ace
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jill
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a spellbinding book! Narrated by a young teenage girl whose life is turned upside down when she is returned to her birth family by the people she believes to be her parents, this book crackles with intensity and poignancy right from the start.

The girl tries to piece the puzzle together about why her parents gave her up, concluding that her mother was fatally ill (after all, before she left, her mother was confined to bed and vomiting). Without any factual information, she adjusts to the lar
...more
Roman Clodia
Apr 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was an orphan with two living mothers. One had given me up with her milk still on my tongue, the other had given me back at the age of thirteen. I was a child of separations, false or unspoken kinships, distances.

Remember that section in Austen's 'Mansfield Park' where Fanny Price returns to her ramshackle family in Portsmouth who gave her away? This book takes that premise (slightly more complicated here) and explores the tensions via the unnamed narrator caught between the poverty-strick
...more
Jeanette
Oct 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent novella.

You never learn her name. Terrific writer and this is the only one that has been translated. By the same Ann Goldstein who has translated Ferrante. Don't expect the writing to be parallel though. This is, IMHO, overall BETTER, more to the crux and identity cores.

You WILL read the sister and brother, Adriana and Vincenzo- their names continually. It's the anminuta's voice! Anminuata, she who has returned. But never her proper name.

It's told 20 years later than the 1975 of its o
...more
Amanda
Nov 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those quiet introspective novels that just gets under your skin. I loved it!
Fabian
Feb 22, 2022 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Poignant and extremely realistic in the portrayal of a girl who feels that she is not wanted. The character development in this one is a doozy: the see-saw of various "guardianships" makes one question inane family traditions, as well as what a family really is. Beautiful. ...more
Carmel Hanes
The premise of this book captured me...a girl raised by one set of parents is suddenly returned to her biological family. As if that wasn't bad enough, she doesn't really even receive an adequate explanation for the sudden change in circumstances. It wasn't a farfetched idea, in that I know this kind of thing happens all the time in the "real" world. Adopted children are given back to children's services, people leave their biological children adrift, foster kids bounce from home to home when th ...more
Sam
Jul 25, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderfully economical novel by an author who knows the difference between show and tell and a a translator, Ann Goldstein, who gives it such clear English expression. A teenage girl, having been raised by a relative since infancy, is being unwillingly returned to her original birth mother without explanation. The potential ramifications of this plot device would be enough to encourage one to read it but the author is very clever with the book, emphasizing the poignancy, developing the my ...more
sahar
Sep 07, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
➳ 3 stars.
Claire
The Adoptee Experience

I chose to read A Girl Returned because I am interested in reading as much as possible, fiction or nonfiction, stories that portray the adoptee experience. And the premise of this book is shocking as the title suggests, when a thirteen year old girl is returned to the family she is born into without being told why or there appearing to be any clear motive.

Though as anyone with a connection with adoption will know, it is rare for the process to exist without the presence of
...more
Debbi
Dec 31, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I received this book as a Christmas gift from Italy. It was highly recommended by a bookseller in Rome. After a melancholy start I was completely taken in with the story of loss and the question of where we belong or who we belong to. The author fits so much into this short novel. It's beautiful. I will be thinking about it for a long time. The translation is exquisite. I also loved the Ferrante quartet so I will be sure to look for more books translated by Ann Goldstein. ...more
Ashma
Aug 14, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
How unfair was it to read this book comparing with Elena Ferrante's writing! How unfair was it to constantly search for her complexities and reflections in the sentences while Pietrantonio stands out in her own way! So what the translator is Ann Goldstein, it's unfair to publicize this book saying "A pitch-perfect rendering in English by Ann Goldstein, Elena Ferrante’s translator." Pietrantonio deserves her own identity.

Arminuta , means A Girl Returned. At the age of thirteen, a girl is return
...more
Biljana
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley, 2019
This was a slim novel that felt like it was greater than the sum of its parts. I think that those who have read and loved the Neopolitan series by Elena Ferrante are likely to enjoy this one, as well.

The narrator of the story is looking back at her childhood when she was the arminuta or "a girl returned." At 13, the arminuta learns that she was being raised by distant relatives and that she must go back to live with her biological family. She moves from a wealthy life to a life of poverty cramm
...more
andreea.
4.5 stars. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful.

"I wasn’t acquainted with hunger and I lived like a foreigner among the hungry. The privilege I bore from my earlier life distinguished me, isolated me in the family. I was the arminuta , the one who’d returned. I spoke another language and I no longer knew who I belonged to. I envied my classmates in the town, and even Adriana, for the certainty of their mothers."

"“No, no, not her!” The cry came from Adriana, who had just returned with Giuseppe, I hadn
...more
Gabriela
REVIEW: A Girl Returned by Donatella Di Pietrantonio

“I was an orphan with two living mothers. One had given me up with her milk still on my tongue, the other had given me back at the age of thirteen. I was a child of separations, false or unspoken kinships, distances.”

I will start by saying that I had a hunch that this would be a great read, however I underestimated just how brilliant this one is & for anyone who enjoys dipping their toes in WIT – this on will not disappoint. In spite of its sh
...more
Vanessa
dnf at 40% ― I was not particularly annoyed by how similar to My Brilliant Friend, A Girl Returned is (in Italy, I'm used too see a surge of wannabe-Elena-Ferrante-s), but the incest, which is one of the main plotlines and NO ONE EXPLICITLY SAYS THERE IS IN THEIR REVIEWS, made me very uncomfortable, almost sick. I could not continue reading at all! ...more
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Donatella was born and grew up in Arsita, a small village in the province of Teramo, and now lives in Penne where she practises as a paediatric dentist. From the age of nine she has been writing stories, fables, poems, and now novels. My Mother Is a River is her first novel. It was first published in Italy in 2011, where it won the Tropea and the John Fante literary prizes , and was translated int ...more

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