This is a trilogy of books by Renee Riva. I am not sure how I came across them, but the three were definitely worth reading and may be books that I will reread some day. This set of books follows the growing up years of AJ. She comes from a Catholic Italian family-one older sister, several brothers and her parents, and an extended family that includes grandmothers that don't get along. The first story is of AJ and her dog Sailor. She and her family live on an island in the summer taking care of things.
Taking Tuscany occurs several years later, where AJ is living in Tuscany, Italy with her family. She doesn't feel like she fits in and longs to be back in the States. AJ becomes friends with several nuns, another classmate, and realizes her extended family isn't all that she expects. This is the one I probably enjoyed the most.
In Heading Home, AJ is 18 years old and returns to the US. Danny, her island friend, is still there. This book has lots of ups and downs and continues the story of AJ growing up.
Riva does a great job at making her characters seem real. There are parts that made me laugh in each book, partly because of the absurdity of the characters behaviors, but also because I can imagine people actually doing some of the things that the characters did. These books are something that I would recommend for anyone that is middle school age or older. If you grew up Catholic or loved having pets as a child, you would enjoy these books.