“I was the Arminuta, the girl returned. I spoke another language, I no longer knew who I belonged to. The word ‘mama’ stuck in my throat like a toad. And, nowadays, I really have no idea what kind of place mother is. It is not mine in the way one might have good health, a safe place, certainty.”
Without warning or a word of explanation, an unnamed 13-year-old girl is sent away from the family she has always thought of as hers to live with her birth family: a large, chaotic assortment of individuals whom she has never met and who seem anything but welcoming. Thus begins a new life, one of struggle, conflict, especially between the young girl and her mother, and deprivation. But in her relationship with Adriana and Vincenzo, two of her newly acquired siblings, she will find the strength to start again and to build a new and enduring sense of self.
Told with immediacy and rare expressive intensity, A Girl Returned marks the English-language debut of an extraordinary literary talent. Set against the stark, beautiful landscape of Abruzzo in central Italy, this is a compelling story about mothers and daughters, about responsibility, siblings, and caregiving, pitch-perfect in Ann Goldstein’s English translation.
Donatella Di Pietrantonio
Born in Teramo Province, Abruzzo, Donatella Di Pietrantonio completed her studies in the provincial capital, Aquila, and now lives in Penne. Her short fiction has been published by Granta Italy, and her novel, Bella mia, was nominated for the Strega Prize and won the Brancati Prize. A Girl Returned, her third novel and her first to be published in English, won the Campiello Prize.