Something is not right with Nadia Cara. While spending a year in Florence, Italy, she's become a thief. She has secrets. And when she tries to speak, the words seem far away. Nadia finds herself trapped by her own obsessions and following the trail of an elusive Italian boy whom only she has seen. Can Nadia be rescued or will she simply lose herself altogether? Set against the backdrop of a glimmering city, One Thing Stolen is an exploration of obsession, art, and a rare neurological disorder. It is a celebration of language, beauty, imagination, and the salvation of love.
Nadia Cara's family relocates to Florence from Philadelphia so her history professor father can write a book on a 1966 flood that devastated the Italian city. The book project stalls, but more troubling is Nadia's sudden transformation from academic prodigy to secret-keeping thief. Inexplicably, she begins to lose the ability to speak while simultaneously becoming obsessed with constructing bird nests from random items she steals around town. For the first two-thirds of the novel, Nadia narrates her own story, but it can be difficult to reconcile the inconsistencies in her voice: sometimes, her language is lyrical, at other times, she's unable to answer a simple question. The last third of the story is told by Nadia's best friend, Maggie, who arrives from Philadelphia in a desperate effort to help her friend reconnect with the real world. Like Nadia's faux bird nests, this is a novel with many layers, ambitiously constructed, but the choice to have most of it told by a poetic narrator said to be in the throes of losing her language skills ultimately makes it less than convincing. Ages 13 up