THREE DAYS by Donna Jo Napoli


Age Range: 9 - 12
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Eleven-year-old Jackie is enjoying mightily her father-daughter trip to Italy—until her father suffers a heart attack while driving back to their hotel one evening. As if this is not terrifying enough, when a pair of men pull over to help (she thinks), they instead kidnap her and take her to their house in the Calabrian countryside—but why? Once there, Jackie meets Claudia, a kind but mysteriously sad woman who seems to want her to be happy there. Napoli’s (Albert, p. 263, etc.) choice of a first-person, present-tense narration is particularly effective here; it isolates the reader in Jackie’s reality just as much as Jackie herself is isolated without recourse in a place where she cannot even understand the language. She emerges as a perfectly ordinary child who wants nothing more than to return home to her mother, but whose desperate need for any security at all within her bizarre circumstances causes her to cling to the only thing that is familiar now, her captors. Jackie’s situation is highly compelling, but the narrative motor that drives it is just as highly contrived: it turns out that Claudia has recently lost her own daughter, and the two men, her father and brother, have decided to kidnap Jackie as a replacement. While perhaps emotionally convincing within the terms of the story, it nevertheless strains credulity to the limit in every other way. Still, if readers are sufficiently grabbed by Jackie’s ingenuous voice and her remarkable predicament, they may be willing to forgive the contrivance for the experience. (Fiction. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-525-46790-4
Page count: 176pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 2001


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