SAFFY’S ANGEL by Hilary McKay

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Saffron loves her eccentric family.  Both of her parents are artisits, her little brother Indigo cooks experimental dinners every night, her little sister Permanent Rose has a strange taste for paint, and though her older sister Cadmium can’t seem to pass any of her exams, she certainly fails them with style.  But since Saffron found out that she is not really her parents’ daughter–that she is really their niece, adopted when she was three years old after her real mother died–Saffy doesn’t feel like she fits in anymore. 
The only straightforward relationship Saffy has is with her grandfather, who has always been her grandfather since the day she was born.  Unfortunately, he also suffered in a car crash shortly after he brought Saffy back from her real mother’s home in Italy to her adopted family in England, and he has not spoken since–only to say Saffron’s name.  When her grandfather passes away, the family discovers a cryptic note in his will, leaving to his granddaughter Saffron “her angel in the garden.”  Although Saffy does not remember her angel, she believes it must be in the garden of her real mother’s house in Sienna.  When she happens to strike up a new friendship with a wealthy and adventurous neighbor girl, it seems Saffy may have a chance to travel to Italy in search of her angel–if only friendship troubles do not get in the way.
I really enjoyed this book, the first in Hilary McKay’s series about this eccentric family.  If you like books about quirky characters, such as Ingrid Law’s Savvy or Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, you should definitely check this one out!  Aside from the fantastic characters, the book contains a coming-of-age story about fitting in with family and friends while finding one’s own identity which is sure to be accessible to older elementary schoolers and teens.  I highly recommend this book! 
Thanks for the recommendation, Linda!