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                Hidden Voices
The Orphan Musicians of Venice

The quest for love and belonging motivates the three teens who tell this engrossing story set in the early 1700s in Venice at the Ospedale dell Pieta, an orphanage and home for abandoned girls. Marriage or a life in the church is the only future that these girls can hope for. Antonio Vivaldi, a character in this fictional account, wrote much of his music at the Ospedale and was responsible for teaching music to a select segment of the girls. Each chapter is told by Anetta, Luisa, or Rosalba, all well-drawn and believable characters. They all seek love in different ways. Despite their disadvantaged backgrounds, they show great inner strength. Luisa has a magnificent voice, which could attract a fine prospect for marriage, but she hopes her talent will snare the attention and affection of her mother, who abandoned her. Rosalba is an incurable romantic who refuses to be confined by the walls of the Ospedale and takes great risks in her pursuit. Anetta nurtures the younger girls at the institution and is intensely devoted to Rosalba and especially to Luisa. Near the end of the book there is a hint that Anetta’s attraction to Luisa may be romantic. Collins’s descriptive prose makes Venice and a unique slice of history come alive as the three connecting narrative strains create a rich story of friendship and self-realization. – School Library Journal. Renee Steinberg, formerly at Fieldstone Middle School, Montvale, NJ