Summary: Spending her summer in Italy with relatives, Angela is taking a break from her mourning mother after the death of her father and exposing herself to a new way of life. When she has the opportunity to help out a family by exercising their horses, she jumps at the chance. Introduced to a horse she calls Storm who is marked to be destroyed after throwing another rider and stepping on her, Angela quickly realises this horse is scared instead of angry and endeavours to save his life. With a summer romance in the works, a new friend and a community caught up in an upcoming horse race, Angela soaks in her experiences and takes some chances, all while supporting the horse she has come to love.
Number of Pages: 142
Age Range: 13-14
Review: In a delightful tale about Angela’s summer vacation in Italy, Siena Summer by Ann Chandler is a cultural experience. The death of Angela’s father causes a rift between Angela and her mother, and getting away seems like a good temporary solution.
What it turns out to be is a chance for Angela to spread her wings and be independent. She finds understanding and comfort living with her aunt and uncle, and uses her love of horses to help save Storm from certain death. Angela shows courage as she risks injury to prove what’s really wrong with Storm, and encourages Catarina to get back on a horse after Storm has injured her.
But the best part is the horse race. It’s an event in the community everyone is excited about, and while I didn’t quite get all of the specifics, I loved the twist Chandler includes.
It’s a bit hard to call the age range on this one. The story itself seems more geared toward pre-teen, but with the element of Angela and Tony’s quickly progressing relationship I bumped it up into the early teen range.
“Angela remembered when her dad had suddenly died of a heart attack. It was awful. One day he was there, and the next he was just gone, but his coat was still hanging behind the door. It was odd when everyone told her they were sorry. ‘What did they have to be sorry about?’ She knew they meant well, but it sounded so stupid.” – Angela from Siena Summer by Ann Chandler, page 29
‘Yes, you are, Cat. But it’s okay. I understand. You think I’m not scared lots of times? Think I’m not scared to death before every competition? You think I wasn’t scared out there today?’
Catarina sniffled again, wiped her nose on her sleeve and looked up. ‘You were?’ She said. Her eyes were flooded with tears. ‘It didn’t seem like it. I thought you were so brave.’
‘I was terrified! I felt like throwing up!’ Angela leaned closer to Catarina. ‘You’ve gotta do it, Cat! You’ve gotta get on again!’
‘I can’t,’ Catarina whispered.
Angela knelt beside the chair and looked up at her friend. ‘I’ll help you, Cat. It’ll be okay, I promise. Besides, Storm likes you.’
Catarina shook her head.” – Conversation between Angela and Catarina about riding again from Siena Summer by Ann Chandler, page 59