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A Girl Returned

by Donatella Di Pietrantonio

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
20813102,593 (4.03)25
Winner of the Campiello Prize. A pitch-perfect rendering in English by Ann Goldstein, Elena Ferrante's translator. "I was theArminuta, 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." 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 responsibility, siblings, and caregiving. Without warning or explanation, an unnamed 13-year-old girl is sent away from the family she has always thought of as hers to live with her birth family: a large, chaotic assortment of individuals whom she has never met and who seem anything but welcoming. Thus begins a new life, one of struggle, tension, and conflict, especially between the young girl and her mother. But in her relationship with Adriana and Vincenzo, two of her newly acquired siblings, she will find the strength to start again and to build a new and enduring sense of self.… (more)
  1. 10
    My Brilliant Friend by Elena Ferrante (RidgewayGirl)
    RidgewayGirl: Both novels center around a girl living in a poor Italian community. Both share the same translator.
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» See also 25 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
astoundingly good. empathetic, emotionally suspenseful, incredibly moving ( )
  boredgames | Apr 19, 2021 |
A beautiful novel about a 13 year old Italian girl who is suddenly returned to her much poorer birth family with no explanation. She is confused, grief-stricken and homesick for her former life all while adapting to a completely different life. I particularly recommend this to anyone who enjoyed Elena Ferrante's novels. ( )
  baruthcook | Aug 26, 2020 |
I just loved this short novel centers that on a thirteen-year-old girl who is abruptly sent away from the couple she had grown up believing were her parents and returned to the family of her birth parents. She's disoriented and this new family is not entirely welcoming. Her change in circumstances also means that her comfortable middle-class world is exchanged for that of a low income family with a lot of instability. She has three older brothers, only one of whom is kind to her, and a new younger sister, with whom she now shares a bed.

The translation for this novel is by Ann Goldstein, who also translated Elena Ferrante's Neapolitan quartet and so the similarities are more than just the shared setting of a poor Italian neighborhood, but this novel is less sweeping soap opera than it is a coming-of-age story where a girl finds herself unmoored and then discovers her own resilience.

This is the first of Di Pietrantonio's novels to be translated into English and I am eagerly awaiting more. ( )
1 vote RidgewayGirl | Mar 2, 2020 |
Suddenly and without warning, a young girl’s parents send her to live with a different family which, it turns out, is her biological family. The adults provide no explanation, and since the story is told in the first person, the reader is just as much in the dark as the girl. She goes from being an only child to one of many children, and must adapt to her new family’s relative poverty. The only bright spot is finding that she has a younger sister; the two become close. The girl never loses hope of being reunited with the couple she still views as her family, and doggedly questions her natural parents to understand why she was returned to them.

The spare prose of A Girl Returned was translated from the Italian by Ann Gold, the translator for Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, and it reads well. The girl’s confusion and emotions are palpable. Like her, I wanted to know the truth and I became invested in her welfare. But the reveal was forced, and the reason for the girl’s return was not fully believable (avoiding spoilers: the family was shielding her from a secret, but one she was old enough to understand and live with). This ultimately left me with a “just okay” feeling about this book. ( )
  lauralkeet | Oct 31, 2019 |
After the Scandinavian era of crime fiction, we now seem to be in the era of Italian coming of age books featuring female leads. In the spirit of Elena Ferrante comes this short novelette about an Italian girl shuffled between families.
I enjoyed it, although it seems to be too short - there could have been more development of the plot, and the hero. But if one of the benefits of reading is to take you to people and places off the familiar path, this book hits the nail on the head. ( )
  mbmackay | Sep 30, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
This lacerating hurt – conveyed with powerful immediacy in this translation by Ann Goldstein, who also brought Elena Ferrante’s work into English – stings throughout the novel, but also becomes the impetus for resilience and self-determination.
added by Nickelini | editThe Guardian, Emily Rhodes (Aug 17, 2019)
 
Clues are introduced with stinging details, like the citrus trace of the former mother’s perfume, lingering after a surreptitious visit. In Italy this novel was Di Pietrantonio’s third, and she has worked up impressive narrative craft. She knows just when and where to slip the pieces of her jigsaw into place — all while leaving emotional gaps, psychic wounds that can never heal. Now and again the story provides a flash-forward, allowing us to see the players’ adult destinies, and a couple of these contribute to the sense of a happy ending. Others, however, resonate with the pangs of a society badly split, as the now-grown narrator confronts her devastated notion of intimacy: “On the pillow every night the same knot of phantoms awaits me, the obscure terrors.”
 
A gripping, deeply moving coming-of-age novel; immensely readable, beautifully written, and highly recommended.
added by Nickelini | editKirkus Reivews (May 12, 2019)
 
Het verhaal van Teruggeworpen is vrij recht toe recht aan. Een meisje wordt geboren in aan arm en kansloos gezin. Ze wordt daarom als baby bij een tante en oom onder gebracht die wel over geld, tijd en aandacht beschikken. Als ze 13 jaar oud is, wordt ze om voor haar onduidelijke redenen opeens teruggebracht in het gezin van haar echte ouders. Ze wordt in dit geconfronteerd met schrijnende armoede, een brute gewelddadige vader en een moeder die over geen enkele levensvreugde lijkt te beschikken…lees verder >
 

» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Donatella Di Pietrantonioprimary authorall editionscalculated
García, MiguelTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goldstein, AnnTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Pflug, MajaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Schraa, HildaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Information from the Dutch Common Knowledge. Edit to localize it to your language.
Zelfs nu zit ik in zekere zin nog vast in die kinderlijke
zomer: waar mijn ziel nog steeds rondfladdert en
vecht, zonder adempauze, als een insect rond een
verblindende lamp
Elsa Morante, Menzogna e sortilegio
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Voor Piergiorgio, die er maar zo weinig is geweest
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Op mijn dertiende kende ik mijn andere moeder niet meer.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Winner of the Campiello Prize. A pitch-perfect rendering in English by Ann Goldstein, Elena Ferrante's translator. "I was theArminuta, 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." 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 responsibility, siblings, and caregiving. Without warning or explanation, an unnamed 13-year-old girl is sent away from the family she has always thought of as hers to live with her birth family: a large, chaotic assortment of individuals whom she has never met and who seem anything but welcoming. Thus begins a new life, one of struggle, tension, and conflict, especially between the young girl and her mother. But in her relationship with Adriana and Vincenzo, two of her newly acquired siblings, she will find the strength to start again and to build a new and enduring sense of self.

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