5th Grade and Up
The kidnappers are actually her Aunt Sandy and Uncle Max, but that doesn’t matter to Domenica Santolina Doone, better known as Dinnie. She feels like she’s being taken out of the country against her will. Certainly, no one asked her opinion. Dinnie is used to change – with her family constantly moving from state to state while her father searches for one new “opportunity” after another. But when her aunt and uncle whisk her away to an international American school in Lugano, Switzerland, Dinnie feels that this might be one “opportunity” that isn’t right for her.
Suddenly Dinnie’s surrounded by kids from many different cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs. Home, and her first life, seem so far away. Can she adapt to a new country, a new home, and new friends? Or will it just be easier to close herself off and never realize all the “bloomabilities” that are possible?
Take note that this book was published back in 1998, so Dinnie can’t text or email, or video chat with her family. She has to send written letters and wait weeks for a reply.
Dinnie doesn’t fully appreciate her new surroundings when she first gets there. All Dinnie knows is that she’s in a different country with an aunt and uncle she barely knows, away from the family she loves with no explanation on why she’s there in the first place. That’s what really got to me. No one explained to her why her aunt and uncle were taking her to another country. They just kept saying that it was an “opportunity,” whatever that means. The poor girl spends the first half of the book thinking she’s done something wrong.
My main reason for reading this book is because it takes place outside the United States. Switzerland sounds beautiful, and I know my mom would have loved to ski down the mountains.
I also loved the diverse international American school setting. This school, in particular, sounds fantastic. Not only is it full of kids from just about every nationality (Japanese, Spanish, French, Norwegian, Indian, Saudi Arabian, Iranian, German, Dutch, and Chinese), but they are actually learning, and most of them are friendly to each other. I’m still not sure what an international American school is precisely. I understand the international part. That it’s a school for students from all over the world. But I don’t know what makes the school American. I think it means that the school follows an American curriculum and that the classes are taught in English, but I’m not exactly sure.
Overall, this is a wonderful journey of self-discovery that I recommend reading. I also recommend listening to the audiobook to hear how all the Italian and other foreign words are pronounced.