Isabella's Libretto by Kimberly Cross Teter
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Fourteen-year-old Isabella dal Cello was abandoned as a baby at the Pieta, an orphanage in Venice. She grew up learning to play the cello and never knowing her mother. Isabella's dream is to play a solo in the Pieta's renowned orchestra. She practices daily and hopes to impress Don Vivaldi, the orchestra's conductor. But then one wrong choice threatens Isabella's dream, and her punishment is to care for Monica, a girl new to the Pieta. Monica feels like a burden, especially when Isabella needs the time to practice. But as Isabella spends more time with Monica, the younger girl begins to feel like a sister--and Isabella would do anything to protect Monica.
This description doesn't even begin to scrape the surface of the emotional depth in ISABELLA'S LIBRETTO. At its core, the book is about loss and grief, finding family among friends, and about a girl who is searching to find her place in the world. The writing is beautiful, the setting is so rich that it's almost a character in itself, and the story is heartbreaking. Rare is the book that hits me so hard emotionally--I needed a box of Kleenex about halfway through. The truth behind the fiction is quite fascinating, too, and the author provides a short afterward to discuss the real Vivaldi and Pieta.
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