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A Girl Returned

by Donatella Di Pietrantonio

A disturbing, emotionally raw and touching story of a child, displaced and moved to a poor, hectic family where life couldn't be any different. Children aren't toys or objects that can be discarded or moved around when an adult pleases: they have feelings and understand rejection, fear and sadness. This story shows they are also amazingly resilient – borne out in the child’s capacity for love, in spite of everything.

Extract

I laid my right hand on an orange, the first available object in the world. It was soft in one place, rotten. Savagely I sunk my fingers into the center and past it, toward the peel on the opposite side. My hand trembled, along with the fruit, and its color of distant sunshine. The juice dripped, wasted, along my wrist and wet my shirt. I don't know how long after that I threw it blindly at the wall: it passed a few centimeters from her head. She didn't even have time to turn before I shoved the crate, which was still on the table, and the fruit fell and rolled evey which way over the floor.
"Are you crazy? What's got into you?"
"I'm not a package, you all have to stop moving me here and there. I want to see my mother, now you tell me where she is and I'll go by myself." I stood up, shaking.
"I don't know where she is, not in the house where she was before."
I moved closer, trapping her between me and the sink. I grabbed her by the black-clothed shoulders and shook her roughly.
"Then I'll find a judge and report all of you. I'll tell him you exchange a daughter like a toy."
Translated by Ann Goldstein

Parallels

My Mother is a River by Donatella Di Pietrantonio
The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante
 

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