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A Portrait of Pia    by Marisabina Russo order for
Portrait of Pia
by Marisabina Russo
Order:  USA  Can
Harcourt, 2007 (2007)

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* *   Reviewed by Lyn Seippel

Twelve-year-old Pia's dad left when she was a baby so she has no memories of him. All her mother will say about him is that he went home to Italy to be with his family. When Pia finds a box containing his address, she writes to him and is thrilled when he writes her back.

Pia's older brother is diagnosed with schizophrenia and is asked to leave college. Although her mother is relieved to have a reason for his bizarre behavior, she is preoccupied with worry about his ever-changing medications, what kind of treatment is best, and his future. Pia knows this is not the right time to tell her mother she is corresponding with her dad.

While Pia's best friend is moving on without her, her mother begins seeing a new man. Although the guy is likable, Pia is sure he'll break her mother's heart. How long will he hang around after finding out that her mother's baggage includes a young daughter and a son with mental problems?

When Pia's dad sends tickets for Pia and her mother to visit Italy during spring break, Pia is forced to tell her mother. Will she agree to the trip or allow Pia to go alone? Pia's relationship with her brother and Papa are strained. Her feelings towards her flawed family are not always charitable, but she matures, learning to love and accept them.

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