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Book Review: Penny from Heaven by Jennifer Holm

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Penny from Heaven is the story of 12-year-old Penny Falucci, an Italian-American girl growing up in the 1950s. Her father died under mysterious circumstances when Penny was very little. She and her mother live with her slightly eccentric maternal grandparents. The grandmother, Me-Me, is a horrible cook, and Pop-Pop, the grandfather, is constantly working on the plumbing and causing leaks. Penny’s mother works very hard and is struggling to make a life for herself.

Penny also has a huge, extended Italian family with one favorite cousin, a gaggle of aunts and uncles who are devoted to her, as well as her Italian grandparents that adore her. For some reason, the two families do not get along.

Penny’s not lacking in love. What she is lacking in is knowledge of her father. Nobody speaks of him; no one will tell her how he died.

This summer begins like any other with Penny and her favorite cousin Frankie playing baseball, delivering meat from their uncle’s butcher shop and hanging out. For her birthday her Uncle Dominic has bought her Dodgers (Dem Bums!) tickets for her birthday. It’s her very first game, so she’s understandably excited and wiggles out of her mother’s birthday celebration for her. It conveys both Penny’s excitement and her mother’s quiet resignation and hurt.

Penny’s mother starts dating the milkman, Mr. Mulligan, and Penny goes nuts. She’s hurt, she’s jealous, she doesn’t give Mr. Mulligan or her mother a chance. Things start to escalate and then something happens to Penny that turns both families upside down and bring them closer. Old secrets are disclosed and a shameful history of the country is exposed.

The cast of characters is very detailed, well-defined, and multi-layered. The former dancer Aunt Gina and her battles with Nonny, the Italian grandmother, were very realistic. It sounded just like my grandmother Ruth and her disapproval of one of my aunts.

The post-war 1950s are portrayed so vividly that you feel you’re in that time period. Everything is so real. There’s a lot of history woven into this book and I think boys will like it just as much as girls. The real fans however are going to be adults who remember that era fondly.

Penny from Heaven, recommended for grades 5 to 7, is a completely remarkable book and it has something for everyone. Highly recommended!

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About Gina Ruiz

  • stephanie sharpe

    you rock my sockz!

  • becca

    hey i just started reading this book and it is soooo…… good i mean awsome u should read it

  • Annabella

    I just started reading this and it is so hard to put down! Ms. Jennifer Holm sure is a great author! I am going to try to find some more of her books! She is WONDERFUL!!!!!

  • Brianna

    i just started reading this book and it was sooooooo good!!!!
    you should read it.

  • Sarah

    I just finished this book, it i samazing!!!!
    Read it.

  • Abby

    I loved this book! I started it and finished in an hour!!

  • Kate

    I read your book and I think it’s the best girl book ever! I would recomend this to any girl who thinks she is a prisoner.

  • LEXAY

    this book starts slow but the ending is greatt!!
    read it and u will learn about like in the 1950’s

  • Monet

    I am almost finished, but so far it is a very very good book!!!

  • Hannah

    omg! this was one of the best books ever. i finished it less than two days.

  • gab

    the book sux monkey ballz, i have to read it for schl but its shit

  • Kathyrn

    I love the book it rocks my socks

  • Maggie

    In the beginning I thought it was slow but in the end it was AMAZING!!!

  • brianna

    i love this book i read it for a book thing 4 school and its is great i want all my friends 2 read it

  • pop

    I never finished the book but it was ok

  • Izzy

    I had to read this book for school. I usually don’t enjoy books like these but this was an entertaining book. It’s pretty darn easy for a 7th grader but I didn’t mind. It’s also kinda funny. And…and the action starts towards the end of the midle of the book.

  • Sammy

    GREAATTT BOOK!

  • Demi

    Thanks, this saved me a lot of work that is due tomorrow!

  • Sara Hart

    I’m actually in love with this book . It’s like my fav Ever . My Fav Scene is when they tell Penny does she know how her father died. “Didnt he have cancer ” benny siad.”I Heard he had pnumonia” Penny said. “I Heard an Anvil feel on hem” Frankie laughed. LOL LOL man thats dey BESTEST [PART] !!!!!!!!!!!

  • kenyadah jackson

    this book is really good i love how penny dose not let down her gard on milk man thing she is a strong 12 year old. i had to do a book report on this book it is very exciteing i wish mrs. jennifer made like some difernet seasones of the book or like a difernet books.well bye guys. and mrs.jennifer you keep writting thosoe good books.:):):):):):):)

  • Allison

    I read this book last year in 6th grade and I Loved it so much my friends loved it also read it ya’ll would LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!

  • Anna

    BEST BOOK EVER!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Victoria

    GREAT!!!!

  • Victoria

    Victoia got ran over by a reindeer

  • Basile

    read it now i LOVED IT!!!!

  • Nile

    Good

  • Nile

    Nile was here

  • Jenna

    Great Book!

  • Regina Moon

    Very interesting,although I believe Penny’s father (Freddy) died from a disease.

    • Reagan Olmore

      not a disease but a illness much like the flu or cold something like that.