Penny from Heaven

I picked up this book at a recent book swap after a children’s librarian sang its praises. Eleven-year-old Penny deals with her first summer job delivering groceries with her cousin, digs for buried money on her grandmother’s land, hopes that her uncle (who lives in his car and wears slippers) will marry her widowed mother, investigates how her father died to varying success, is embarrassed by her grandfather in front of local boys, sneaks out to the pool and the beach despite dire warnings from her mother that she’ll get polio, and suffers a serious injury with a laundry wringer. Her mother begins dating the milkmen to Penny’s disgust, although she moves past this when he visits her in the hospital and they get to know each other. The author does a great job sneaking in bits of history like the anti-Italian sentiment during WW2 which inspired FDR’s signing of Proclamation 2527 designating 600k non-naturalized Italians as “enemy aliens” obliged to carry pink enemy id booklets and turn in weapons, radios, cameras, flashlights. Good read for adults and kids alike.