Dreaming of freedom from a life of brute servitude, hard labor, and debt to a tyrannical landlord, Papa Santuzzu and his wife, Adriana, push their beloved children to immigrate to La Merica, the Land of Opportunity. In his "wild and giddy imagination," Papa Santuzzu ardently believes in the ease of attaining the American Dream, the promise of "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness" for all, and rests assured that his children will thrive in this great nation of abundance.
Following the painful, yet exuberant, process of the Santuzzu children's displacement from their homeland and relocation in Papa Santuzzu's conceived lush "faraway garden," Ardizzone's novel re-imagines the meaning of such a journey, where every obvious gain entails some unforeseen sacrifice. A loving tribute to Sicilian American culture, In the Garden of Papa Santuzzu resounds with the traditional folklore and songs of Sicily, implanting within our hearts a vibrant and compassionate perspective of the struggles, joys, and proliferation of diasporic communities in modern America.
In their earnest exodus to America, the Santuzzu children arduously clear away the weeds and briars in what seems a vast and rugged wilderness, managing to cultivate their own unknown, yet nonetheless beautiful, version of their Papa's paradisiacal vision—building, at last, a home-away-from home.