Exploring Themes of Adoption and Family in Post War Italy
Take Me With You written by Carolyn Marsden
Chapter book for middle grades published by Candlewick Press
Last evening I finished the last few chapters of Take Me With You by Carolyn Marsden. It was a particularly satisfying ending to an enjoyable “read.” The concluding chapters left some questions unanswered but were both positive and hopeful in tone.
Take Me With You tells the story of two orphaned young girls who both live at Istituto di Gesu in post-war Naples, Italy. The girls are best friends who each long for life as part of a family. Susanna and Pina live in poverty within the four walls of church-run orphanage, seldom venturing into town.
Susanna is referred to as a mulatta. Her mother was an Italian, her father was an American soldier. Susanna fears that her hair and skin tone will deter potential adoptive parents as she does not look like other young Italian girls.
Pretty, blond, Pina wants deperately to be adopted but discovers that her mother has not yet signed the documentation that would allow an adoption to go ahead. Pina is heartbroken when she finally meets the woman who abandoned her. She is forced to come to terms with her mother’s indifference and does so with the help of her friend and one of the nuns at the orphanage.
Recommended for middle grade readers, Take Me With You deals with serious issues with tenderness and sensitivity. The outcome is optimistic while remaining realistic. The book will primarily appeal to girls although it is entirely suitable for both boys and girls.