A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
A boy wants to be a criminal like his dad. Japanese are referred to as "Japs."
Violence & Scariness
A couple of fistfights, a rather gruesome accidental injury, description of a hospital ward with injured children, mention of wife abuse.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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Products & Purchases
A beer brand is mentioned.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Adults smoke cigarettes and cigars; drinking; alcoholic parent; a 12-year-old sips wine.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that the central event of this story is a rather gruesome injury in which a child gets her arm caught in a wringer machine. She then meets other injured children in the hospital. There is some mention of wife abuse, and one parent is an alcoholic.
Is It Any Good?
The first half of Penny from Heaven is a slow but evocative and nostalgic slice of life in a '50s Italian family in suburban New Jersey. It makes reference to the fear of polio, saying "swell," rooting for the Brooklyn Dodgers, eating abundantly, etc. Getting through this part takes patience and real reading experience.
Things pick up in the second half, when a terrible accident leads to secrets revealed and families reconciled. It's all beautifully written and fascinating (though perhaps more to adults than to most kids), and it reveals a true but little-known historical event.
Did we miss something on diversity?
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Our Editors Recommend
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