Sharon Creech

Book - 1998

When her aunt and uncle take her from New Mexico to Lugano, Switzerland, to attend an international school, thirteen-year-old Dinnie discovers her world expanding.

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New York : HarperCollins Publishers 1998.
Main Author
Sharon Creech (-)
Physical Description
273 p.
  • 1.. First Life
  • 2.. The Dot
  • 3.. An Opportunity
  • 4.. The Two Prisoners
  • 5.. Postcards
  • 6.. The Girl
  • 7.. The Queen
  • 8.. An Italian Tongue
  • 9.. Toes and Teeth
  • 10.. Complaints
  • 11.. It's So Rude
  • 12.. Nomads and Cuckoos
  • 13.. Val Verzasca
  • 14.. Goober
  • 15.. Percorso
  • 16.. Bloomable
  • 17.. Struggles
  • 18.. An Announcement
  • 19.. Buon Natale
  • 20.. Trees and Cows
  • 21.. Libero
  • 22.. St. Moritz
  • 23.. Downfelling
  • 24.. Disaster
  • 25.. Phone Call
  • 26.. Hamburger and Peaches
  • 27.. Italian Invasion
  • 28.. Thinking
  • 29.. Andermatt
  • 30.. Waiting
  • 31.. Pot Roast and Plans
  • 32.. The Pistol
  • 33.. The Visitor
  • 34.. The Dolomites
  • 35.. Loud Snow
  • 36.. Signals
  • 37.. Watching
  • 38.. Voci Bianche
  • 39.. Upstanding
  • 40.. Two Pistols
  • 41.. Hats and Bugs
  • 42.. Fishing
  • 43.. Forking Roads
  • 44.. Shifting Light
  • 45.. Ciao
  • 46.. Next Life
Review by Booklist Review

Gr. 5^-7. As is her wont, Creech sends readers along on a thoughtful young character's life-changing odyssey. Having lived in 13 states in 12 years, Domenica Santolina Doone, Dinnie for short, has been traveling all her life; but it's still a shock when her parents suddenly hand her over to Uncle Max and Aunt Sandy, and she finds herself headed for the American School in Lugano, Switzerland, where Max is headmaster. During a thoroughly broadening year learning to ski and to speak Italian and re-examining preconceptions about herself and other people, Dinnie gradually loses her sense of being insulated from the world. As if fresh, smart characters in a picturesque setting weren't engaging enough, Creech also poses an array of knotty questions, both personal and philosophical--why, for instance, do Dinnie's parents send her away and subsequently become so uncommunicative? Why by school's end is Dinnie eagerly looking forward to rejoining her family (now living in Bybanks, Kentucky, site of Chasing Redbird [1997]), facing a tough decision about where to go to school next year. A story to stimulate both head and heart: wise, witty, and worth the money. --John Peters

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

A light first-person narrative and some insightful dream flashes (taken from the protagonist's journal) convey an uprooted 13-year-old's coming of age. Domenica Santolina Doone ("It's a mouthful, so most people call me Dinnie"), whose father is always in search of "the right opportunity," has already lived in 12 different cities. With her father on the road, her older brother Crick in jail and her 16-year-old sister, Stella, giving birth, it's little surprise that Dinnie is "kidnapped" by her aunt and uncle and taken from her "little New Mexico hill town" to the American School in Lugano, Switzerland, where the pair work. Tired of always being on the move, Dinnie is determined not to get attached to her newest environment ("I won't adjust! I won't adapt! I won't! I'll rebel!"), but surrounded by other "foreigners"‘students from all corners of the world‘she finds it easier than she had imagined to make friends. Guthrie, a classmate, helps her see a sense of possibility, or "bloomability," and to grow from her experiences. Creech (Walk Two Moons) skims the surface of Dinnie's gradual emergence from her protective "bubble" rather than delving into Dinnie's feelings about the deeper ramifications of her family's unraveling. The author tells rather than shows the poignant moments (e.g., Dinnie has no reaction when her parents forget her on Christmas; her friend Lila's vacillating moods go unexplained), which results in a reportlike view of the school year, rather than insight into the purported change in Dinnie. Some readers wishing to glimpse an adventure abroad may think this is just the ticket; however, fans of the author's previous works will likely miss her more fully realized characters. Ages 8-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-This honest, hopeful slice of adolescent life successfully explores how Domenica Santolina Doone, known as Dinnie, comes to terms with her past and establishes a secure identity for the future. Creech's skill at character development and subtle, effective use of metaphor shine in this first-person narrative with crisp, appropriately titled chapters. Deliberately, Creech introduces Dinnie as somewhat of a nonentity. Readers don't learn much about the specifics of her family life, only that her older sister and brother tend to get into various kinds of trouble, and that her parents are always looking for a new "opportunity" in some other town. By the second chapter, Dinnie explains that she's been "kidnapped" by her Aunt Sandy and Uncle Max, who take her with them to Switzerland to attend the school where Max is headmaster. In Dinnie's "second life" in Europe, her family continues to neglect her, forgetting even to let her know where they've relocated. Dinnie gradually adjusts to her new environment as she makes friends with other students from around the world: exuberant Guthrie; bitter Lila; and language-mangling Keisuke, who says "bloomable" when he means "possible." Together, these middle schoolers share classes and adventures, and explore ideas and emotions. As she reflects on her friends, her kind aunt and uncle, and her own vivid dreams, the youngster no longer sees herself as "Dinnie the dot in my bubble." Everyone can relate to the hard struggles of life, but, as the heroine comes to realize, the world is still full of "bloomability."-Peg Solonika, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, PA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Horn Book Review

(Intermediate) Thirteen-year-old Domenica Santolina Doone-Dinnie-is used to being a stranger. She and her family have moved many times, all over the United States, following her father in search of great opportunities. Dinnie is given her own great opportunity, whether she wants it or not, when her aunt and uncle take her to Lugano, Switzerland. Her uncle has been appointed headmaster of the American School and Dinnie is to be a pupil. For her, the year is one of "bloomability" (a word coined by a Japanese fellow student meaning "possibility"). In the beginning, she dreams of herself in a bubble, looking out at the world; gradually, her dreams change as, reluctantly at first, she allows experiences, diverse new friends, and unexpected and challenging ideas to enter through the pores in this bubble, pushing its walls further and further out. Dinnie says, "I'd always felt as if I were in a sort of suspension, waiting to see how things worked, waiting to see who I was and what sort of life I might lead." Creech surrounds her with a lively, sympathetic, often amusing cast of adult and adolescent characters, and Dinnie herself is an appealing narrator. It's Dinnie's own family, still wandering the U.S. while she's in Switzerland, who don't fully come to life. Dinnie's attachment to and homesickness for them is talked about rather than truly felt, and her two aunts, Grace and Tillie, with their repeated postcard messages, become tiresome. Although Bloomability itself feels less unified than the author's previous books, at the end Creech links them when she sends Dinnie "home" for the summer to Bybanks, Kentucky, a town already familiar to her readers. nancy bond From HORN BOOK, (c) Copyright 2010. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Creech (Chasing Redbird, 1997, etc.) plies the threads of love and loss, separation and belonging, into another deeply felt novel; while it is no sin for a writer to repeatedly explore such themes, a certain sameness is descending upon her books. Dinnie Santolina, 13, loves her family, even though her father is always in search of the next irresistible opportunity and her mother is happy to follow him. But when brother Crick finally gets into enough trouble to go to jail and sister Stella comes home at 16 both married and pregnant, Dinnie finds herself quite suddenly in Switzerland, where Uncle Max is the new headmaster at an international American school. Dinnie has had a lot of experience being the stranger, but here, with her warm and charming aunt and uncle, and among students of many nationalities, she explores the meaning of home through her dreams, the mountains, forests, and towns near Lake Lugano, and a curriculum where her classmates decide that thinking really is homework. She becomes friends with Lila, whose erratic behavior mirrors even more erratic parents, Keisuke, whose fractured English paints word-pictures (``bloomable'' for possible), his Spanish girlfriend Belen, and the irrepressible Guthrie, who delights in all things. Metaphors mixed in several languages, dream images of snow and distance, and the bittersweet terrors of adolescence will keep readers turning the pages and regretful to reach the last one. (Fiction. 9-14)

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Bloomability RB/SB Chapter One First Life In my first life, I lived with my mother, and my older brother and sister, Crick and Stella, and with my father when he wasn't on the road. My father was a trucker, or sometimes a mechanic or a picker, a plucker or painter. He called himself a Jack-of-all-trades (Jack was his real name), but sometimes there wasn't any trade in whatever town we were living in, so off he would go in search of a job somewhere else. My mother would start packing, and we'd wait for a phone call from him that would tell us it was time to join him. He'd always say, "I found us a great place! Wait'll you see it!" Each time we moved, we had fewer boxes, not more. My mother would say, "Do you really need all those things, Dinnie? They're just things. Leave them." By the time I was twelve, we'd followed my father from Kentucky to Virginia to North Carolina to Tennessee to Ohio to Indiana to Wisconsin to Oklahoma to Oregon to Texas to California to New Mexico. My things fit in one box. Sometimes we lived in the middle of a noisy city, but most of the time Dad had found us a tilted house on a forgotten road near a forgotten town. My mother had been a city girl, my father a country boy; and as far as I could tell, my mother spent most of her time trying to forget that she'd been a city girl. Those few times that we lived in the middle of the city, though, she seemed as if she were right at home, in her real home, her permanent home. She'd get a job in an office or a design studio, instead of a diner. She knew how to use buses and weave in and out of crowds, and she didn't seem to hear the horns and sirens and jackhammers. Those things drove my father crazy. "I know there's work here," he'd say, "but there's too many bodies and cars everywhere. You're like to get killed just stepping into the road. No place to raise kids." My mother would be real quiet after he'd said something like this, and pretty soon he'd be off looking for a better place to live, and she'd be packing again. My sister Stella had a theory that Dad was keeping us on the move so my mother's family wouldn't find us. He didn't trust a single one of her brothers or sisters, and he didn't trust her parents, either. He thought they had "airs" and would talk my mother into moving back to New York, where she'd come from. He said they looked down their noses at us. Once, when I was seven or eight, and we were living in Wisconsin-or no, maybe it was Oklahoma-or it could've been Arkansas (I forgot Arkansas-we lived there for six months, I believe), a thin woman with gray hair pulled back in a tight bun was sitting in our kitchen one day when I came home from school. Before I could shake off my coat, she'd wrapped me in a perfumed hug and called me carissima and her sweet kitten. "I'm not a kitten," I said, sliding out the side door. Crick was throwing a basketball at an invisible hoop. "There's a lady in there," I said. Crick aimed, shot that ball into a graceful high arc, and watched it bounce off the edge of the garage next door. "Crud," he said, "that's no lady. That's your grandma Fiorelli." There was a big argument that night after I'd gone to bed behind the drapes hung between the kitchen and the side room. My Dad was gone-he'd taken one look at our lady grandma and bolted out the door, never even pausing to say hello. It was Mom and Grandma in the kitchen. Mom was telling her how resourceful Dad was, and how he could do anything, and what a rich life we had. From the bed next to mine, Stella said, "Mom's a dreamer." In the kitchen, Grandma said, "Rich? This is a rich life?" My mother charged on. "Money isn't everything, Ma," she said. "And why you go and let him name that boy Crick? What kind of name is that? Sounds like he was raised in a barn." My parents had had an agreement. Dad got to name any boys they had, and Mom got to name the girls. Dad told me he'd named Crick after a clear little crick that ran beside the house they'd lived in at the time. Once, when I used the word crick in a paper for school, the teacher crossed it out and wrote creek above it. She said crick wasn't a real word. I didn't tell Dad that. Or Crick either.Mom named her first girl (my sister) Stella Maria. Then I came along, and she must have been saving up for me, because she named me Domenica Santolina Doone. My name means Sunday-Southern-Wood-River. I was born on a Sunday (which makes me blessed, Mom said), and at the time we lived in the South beside woods and a river. My name is pronounced in the Italian way: Doe-MEN-i-kuh. Domenica Santolina Doone. It's a mouthful, so most people call me Dinnie. In the kitchen, Grandma Fiorelli was steaming on. "You ought to think of yourself," she said. "You ought to think of those children. They could be in a school like the one your sister works in. Your husband needs a real job-" "He has a real job-" "Every six months? Basta!" Grandma said. "Why he can't keep a job for more than six months at a time? What does he do, anyway? Why he didn't go to college so he could get a real job? How are you going to get out of this mess?" "He's looking for the right opportunity," my mother said. "He could do anything-anything at all. He just needs a break-" Grandma's voice got louder every time she started up again. She was bellowing like a bull by this time. "A break? E ridicolo! And how he is going to get a break if he doesn't even have a college education? Answer me that!" "Everybody doesn't need a college education," my mother said. "When we come to this country, your father and I, we know not a word of English, but you kids got a college education-" Stella threw a pillow at me. "Don't listen, Dinnie," she said. "Put your head under this and go to sleep." The pillow didn't drown out Grandma Fiorelli, though. She barreled on. "And what about you?" Grandma said to my mother. "There you are, a perfectly well-trained artist, and I bet you don't even have a paintbrush to your name." "I paint," my mother said. "Like what? Walls? Falling down, peeling walls? Basta! You ought to talk to your sister-" The next morning Grandma Fiorelli was gone, and so was Dad. He'd gone looking for a new place to live. He'd heard of an opportunity, he said. And so we followed him around, from opportunity to opportunity, and as we went, Crick got into more and more trouble. Crick said it wasn't his fault that every place we went, he met up with people who made him do bad things. According to Crick, some boys in Oklahoma made him throw rocks at the school windows, and some boys in Oregon made him slash a tire, and some boys in Texas made him smoke a joint, and some boys in California made him burn down a barn, and some boys in New Mexico made him steal a car. Every time we moved, Dad told him, "You can start over." And with each move, Stella got quieter and quieter. Within a week of our reaching a new town, there'd be boys pounding on the door day and night, wanting to see her. All kinds of boys: tough ones, quiet ones, nerdy ones, cool ones. In California, when she was sixteen, she came home one Sunday night, after having been gone all weekend with one of her girlfriends, supposedly, and said she'd gotten married. "No you didn't," Dad said. "Okay, I didn't," she said, and went on up to bed. She told me she'd married a Marine, and she showed me a marriage certificate. The Marine was going overseas. Stella started eating and eating and eating. She got rounder and rounder and rounder. When we were in that hill town in New Mexico, she woke me up one night and said, "Get Mom, and get her quick." Stella was having a baby. Dad was on the road, Crick was in jail, and Stella was having a baby. And that was the last week of my first life. Bloomability RB/SB . Copyright © by Sharon Creech . Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold. Excerpted from Bloomability by Sharon Creech All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.