Item description for Taking Tuscany: A Novel by Renee Riva...
Overview A.J. Degulio loved the idea of a visit to the Old Country...until her family decided to stay. It's 1972 and she's turning fourteen in a crumbling castle on a hill in Tuscany, wishing she were back in Idaho with her beloved dog, Sailor. In Italy, her blonde hair makes her stick out like a vanilla wafer in a box of chocolate biscotti, and she's so lonely her best friend is a nun from the local convent.
A. J. Degulio loved the idea of a visit to the Old Country--until her family decided to stay.
Now it's 1972 and she's turning fourteen in a crumbling castle on a hill in Tuscany, wishing she were back in Idaho with her beloved dog, Sailor. In Italy, her fair complexion and blonde hair make her stick out like a vanilla wafer in a box of chocolate "biscotti," and she's so lonely her best friend is a nun from the local convent. What's worse, her grandma's losing her marbles and Mama's going crazy over Uncle Nick's ugly blue villa, which she can see from every window.
The challenges of roots and relatives are nothing new to A. J. but factor in language, culture shock, and a bad case of homesickness, and A. J.'s going to need more than the famous Degulio sense of humor to survive. It will take a catastrophe--and a few wise words from a friend--for A. J. to understand that sometimes the only thing you can change is your perspective.
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Studio: David C. Cook
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 8.1" Width: 5.5" Height: 0.8" Weight: 0.75 lbs.
Release Date May 1, 2009
Publisher David C. Cook
ISBN 1434767779 ISBN13 9781434767776
Availability 0 units.
More About Renee Riva
Renee Riva has been writing humorous stories since she won a writing contest in second grade. Her two previous titles Izzy the Lizzy and Guido's Gondola both published by WaterBrook Press in May of 2005 and met with instant success over 4000 sold in four months.Riva is a former greeting card verse writer as well as a speaker for women's groups and aspiring writers. She and her husband reside in Richland, Washington, with their three daughters.
Reviews - What do customers think about Taking Tuscany: A Novel?
Love, love, love Renée Riva Nov 24, 2009
Review by Jill Williamson
A few years have gone by since Saving Sailor. A few tortuous years where poor A.J. Degulio has been forced to live in Tuscany, a half a world away from her beloved dog, Sailor, her friend Danny, and the beauty of Indian Island, Idaho. Sigh! Sure, one might think that living in Italy would be wonderful. Not A.J. In Italy, she is a blond, Yankee Barbie doll, the punch line of every joke at school. To make matters worse, her family is crazy, as usual.
Love, love, love Renée Riva. It's rare that a book makes me laugh out loud. During this one, my husband kept shooting me weird looks, wondering if I was loosing my mind. Nope. Just reading Taking Tuscany and loving it! The whole time I'm reading it, I'm dying that I don't have Heading Home waiting on my bedside table. Ug! Renée, please don't make us wait too long for book three. I need to read the real-life-fiction version of Moon over Milan.
Riva has crafted a lovely tale of longing and belonging readers of all ages will savor. Jul 25, 2009
Ten-year-old A.J. Degulio burst onto the scene in Renee Riva's first novel, Saving Sailor, with a voice reminiscent of Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird. Her quirky sense of humor, crazy Italian family, and animal loving ways quickly earned her a place alongside the best of literature's coming-of-age characters. But as kids grow older, their voices change, and I wondered if our friend A.J. would retain her innocence and wit in Taking Tuscany. No worries. The girl we came to love is still here. She's just a little older and maybe a tad wiser, but she's still A.J. Now thirteen and living with her family in Italy, she's ditched her fake southern accent but still feels like a misfit. It doesn't help that she's the only blonde haired, fair skinned Italian in her family, is more comfortable with animals than kids her own age, and her only friend has become a nun.
If there's a theme to Riva's novels, it's straight from her own life: La famiglia e tutto, family is everything. We see it in Taking Tuscany, just like we did in Saving Sailor. Sure, the Degulios are quirkier than most families. Mom Sophia gets a kick out of pretending she's Sophia Loren, complete with giving out autographs. Grandma Juliani's starting to lose her marbles. Aunt Genevieve and Uncle Nick have painted their villa blue. But through it all the Degulios never lose their love for each other, challenged as it is at times.
There's something incredibly refreshing about Riva's tales of a more innocent time (in this case 1972 Italy), where the biggest challenges at school are an enemy sticking gum in your hair, or deciding whether to let a cute boy walk you home. But no matter what A.J. faces, she knows she will always have her family. And Danny and Sailor. She keeps in touch with her childhood crush and beloved dog still living in Idaho via letter writing, and throughout Taking Tuscany we watch Danny and A.J.'s friendship flourish through pen and ink. A.J. still longs to return to what she'll always call home, but at least Danny's photos and kind words sustain her.
Renee Riva may be an as yet undiscovered gem in Christian fiction, but she won't be for long if she continues to write books like Taking Tuscany. Proficiently mixing deeper themes and spiritual truths alongside the humor, Riva has crafted a lovely tale of longing and belonging readers of all ages will savor.
--Reviewed by C.J. Darlington for TitleTrakk
Enjoyable Follow-Up to Saving Sailor May 27, 2009
The author did a splendid job of continuing AJ's story in Taking Tuscany. AJ has aged almost four years since Saving Sailor, growing from a child to a young adult. Renee Riva has done an excellent job creating a fresh, endearing story that held my attention until the end. It's one of those stories that you almost feel a part of... or at least WISH you were a part of.... The book is warm, funny and well-written and will cause the reader to pause and consider what values are most important in ones' life.
Overcoming challenges & putting things in perspective May 21, 2009
Reviewed by Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson for Reader Views (2/09)
When your name is Angelina Juliana Degulio, it simplifies your life considerably when people simply call you A.J., and that's the name the wonderfully quirky teenager from Idaho, transplanted to Italy much against her will, goes by. Her life changed dramatically when her whole family packed their bags and moved to a crumbling castle in picturesque, but unfamiliar and not always friendly Tuscany. It's not easy making friends when one is fourteen, and even less when you've just been uprooted and you stick out like "a vanilla wafer among chocolate biscotti," as A.J. neatly says when describing her situation. What's more - A.J. had to leave behind her beloved dog, Sailor, and a particularly good friend of hers, Danny. Yes, they write to each other, but will Danny forget her?
Renee Riva's "Taking Tuscany" is a delightful book. While I'd say that it is geared towards adolescents and very young adults, this not-so-young-in-years adult enjoyed it tremendously. I have to admit I've long had a weakness for a well-crafted story, geared towards that particular age group, especially since so few were available when I was growing up. It really pleases me to see the advances in this field. Ms. Riva's writing sparkles, and while she teaches important lessons, she never sounds preachy. Her slightly quirky sense of humor keeps all matters fresh and her perspective is always unique. I loved the playful way she (and A.J.) crafted new words, with my favorite being `flutterby' for `butterfly.' If that's not quirky enough, the reader can look forward to crazy stories about A.J.'s Nonna, the concept of `nun for a day,' A.J.'s younger brother Benji's escapades, the chewing gum incident and more. Not all of the subjects are lighthearted however, and enough morals are interspersed throughout the story to make it serious reading, particularly the parts about making friends, the importance of perspective and the tales of the brave nuns during the Second World War.
Humorous, but not lightweight, "Taking Tuscany" by Renee Riva is a great book for anybody who's ever had trouble fitting in, particularly children who had to move frequently for whatever reasons. While Ms. Riva's world is a world where children enjoy the luxury of being children and morals are highly valued, this is by no means a boring read. I am greatly looking forward to the promised sequel, and I'll be keeping my fingers crossed that all of A.J.'s dreams come true. This plucky heroine deserves that!
Great Read May 8, 2009
A wonderful follow-up to Saving Sailor. Readers will love A.J.'s charm, sense of humor and quirky family. You will be left wishing for an Italian vacation and looking forward to Heading Home.