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One Thing Stolen by Beth Kephart


Topics of Interest: art, Italy, neurological disorders, friendship, family, birds, nature, historical fiction

Curriculum Connections: Visual Art, Biology, History (European)

Gender: F/M

Age: 14+

Blurb: Just last week I was lying on a beach in Mexico thinking about how I could spend the rest of my life in that very spot. What’s not to love? Hot sun, turquoise water, white sand, a good book, a frothy drink. Heaven. I’d be perfectly content staying there forever.

But then I started contemplating the other places I’d miss visiting. Europe, for one. I love Europe, and I’ve been wanting to explore Italy for some time: The canals of Venice; the history of Rome; the churches of Vatican City. And Florence! The art! One hasn’t lived until given the opportunity to appreciate Italy’s art, food, and architecture.

Nadia Cara, in One Thing Stolen, moves to Florence with her family so her father can research the 1966 flood that nearly destroyed the city. Awed by the sheer beauty she sees in her surroundings, Nadia becomes so obsessed with every-day items that she can’t help but steal them to craft her own intricate sculptures. To Nadia, colours are brighter, objects are lovelier, and reality becomes more difficult to distinguish from the thoughts in her head.

Her family, caught up in their own experiences of living in a foreign city, don’t immediately recognize that something very frightening is happening to Nadia.

This is not a story of teenage rebellion. For Nadia’s family and best friend Maggie, that would be a far easier problem to face.

Flavour: “Night is gone. Dad is near, calling me from the other side of the door, where he cannot see the splinters in my hands, the threads on this bed, the spill of glitter, the artifacts of my thievery, the one fine thing I’ve made out of the muck I am. Dad doesn’t know the secrets I keep, and besides, how can I tell him?” (8)

“’So?’ [my brother] Jack says. ‘You coming?’ ….I don’t know what’s next, where I’m going, what will happen soon, if Florence is still raining petals, if this day will be less strange than the days that have come before, if the boy is out there. ‘Coming,’ I manage, and Jack wrinkles his nose. ‘Talk like a human being, Nadia.’” (33)

“Outside the sound of rain is sliding from rooftops. Inside it’s Dad and me in the room and in the window glass, blurry, and now he pours himself another glass of wine and stands looking out into the street and I stand beside him and he says, ‘I’m sorry I dragged you here to Florence, Nadia. You were so much happier at home. I’ve been selfish.’ ‘Dad,’ I say. ‘Dad. It’s not your—fault.’” (120)

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