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Secrets in Translation
Fitzroy Books / Regal House Publishing, October 2018
Hardcover, paperback, epub
Young adult / Adult

In this celebration of Italian life and culture, seventeen-year-old Alessandra returns for the summer to Italy, where she grew up. Pressured by her parents into babysitting a rebellious twelve year old—ruining holiday plans with newfound American friends—Alessandra resigns herself to a tedious summer in Positano. Her babysitting gig, however, turns out to be anything but boring! Not only does Alessandra fall for the handsome son of the Bertolucci family, renowned for their limoncello production, but when a body mysteriously turns up on the beach, the influence of organized crime in Positano become frighteningly real. As Alessandra is drawn further into an elaborate conspiracy, she must risk everything to protect herself, her family, and those that she loves, and in the process she finds herself—and her Italian heart.


“A teenage romance as sweet and satisfying as a summer day on the Amalfi coast, with a dark twist to add to the page-turning mystery. Margo Sorenson has deftly captured the enigmatic moodiness of a tween, the budding self-awareness of an almost-adult young woman, and the tantalizing seductiveness of Italy—and its young men. A delightful armchair excursion to the romantic heart of southern Italy! Brava!” (Dianne Hales, author of La Bella Lingua and the forthcoming La Passione: How Italy Seduced the World) 

“Utterly charming!” (Allison K. Hill, Book Buyer, Vroman's Book Store, Pasadena, CA)

“What an entertaining read! Torn between two cultures, seventeen-year-old Alessandra (or Alex) struggles with where she fits in, and who she really wants to be. After living in America for the past year, she is returning to Italy as a nanny for a young charge who, in the boy-crazy department, is 12 going on 16. I enjoyed seeing the bond between the two girls develop, as well as Alessandra’s relationship with a certain very-hot Italian boy. Actually, there are two charismatic and handsome young men, but can either one be trusted or could one or possibly both be involved in the organized crime overshadowing the tranquil scenery? The descriptions of the beautiful coastal locations and customs are gorgeous and pulled me right into the action which builds up to a suspenseful climax and satisfying ending. I’ve never been to Italy, but now I’m ready to pack my bags and sit on a terrace sipping delicious lemon-flavored drinks. You’re sure to enjoy Secrets in Translation!” (Marcia Strykowski, author of Call Me Amy)

“Secrets in Translation is a perfect mix of travel, culture, romance and mystery! The descriptions of the towns, restaurants and the people allow the reader to feel as if they are traveling to Italy with Alessandra! The character deals with the pull between the loyalty of two cultures and coming of age. The story is intriguing and pulls the reader in leaving them wanting more. A fun and interesting book that teens are sure to love.” (Anita Celucci, Past President Massachusetts Library Association, Librarian,Westborough HS)

“I adore reading books that take me to new places and show me different ways of life around the world. It's always so interesting, and when I can't visit in person, a great way to tame my wanderlust! Secrets was perfect for that. Sorenson has created a great picture of a summer in Italy, complete with a bratty tween under Alessandra's care, and the narrow, twisting streets of Positano. I desperately wanted to step through the pages and relax by the sea or eat some of the incredible food! And maybe enjoy some limoncello while I was at it ;) I also really enjoyed reading about Alessandra/Alex's struggle with finding the balance between her upbringing in Italy and her current life in Sonoma, California. The juxtaposition of the two was spot-on and heart wrenching at first, but she manages to find her place, which left me cheering. It doesn't hurt to have an Italian hottie to help out a little! Overall, this was a great read that will leave you wanting to book a trip to Italy!” (Meradeth Houston, author, Someone Else's Soul and An Absence of Light)

“One criterion of a good read for me is whether or not the characters and setting remain vivid in my mind long after I’ve turned the last page. Kudos to Margo Sorenson’s Secrets in Translation for meeting that criterion. With evocative sensory details, Sorenson transports the reader, along with her engaging hero Alex/Alessandra, to the small Italian village of Positano on the Amalfi Coast one pivotal summer.

“The story begins with Alex’s plans in ruins for a long-anticipated trip to Tahoe with her new friends.  Her parents, who have recently relocated to the wine country of northern California after living many years in Italy, insist she take a nannying job that forces her back to Italy for the summer, just at the crucial time she was trying so hard to fit in, to shed her Italian-ness and become American. Distraught as she is, Alex tries to make the most of the situation. While attempting to keep reins on the challenging tweener who is in her charge for six weeks, Alexandra stumbles on to a summer romance with the handsome Carlos and soon begins to feel her heart pulled back to the beautiful country that had been her home for so long. At the same time, however, danger begins to nip at her heels with incidents involving the Sacra Lista and suspects Carlos might be involved. Not only does she have to deal with potential peril of the Italian mafia and the confusion involving Carlos and their budding romance, she also has to come to terms with her feelings about where her heart lies. Is it with Italy, her old home, or America her new one? This book begs for a sequel!” (Bonnie Graves, author, Catch Me When I Fall, The Best Worst Day, Mystery of the Tooth Gremlin)

Secrets in Translation
Fitzroy Books
Barnes & Noble
Press Release

Island Danger
MuseItUp Publishing, 2012

When fourteen-year-old soccer star Todd arrives in Hawaii, he hears that radical, militant Hawaiian activists have hidden weapons in a nearby ravine to use for their rebellion against the U.S. government to gain Hawaiian independence. Even though he’s warned that people are raising marijuana or “pakalolo” in the ravine, guarding their crops with rifles, pit bulls, and explosives, Todd plans to scout the ravine and find the weapons, hoping he can finally earn his family’s respect and find some adventure to offset his boring summer. What will Todd discover in the ravine that could force him to rethink everything he’s believed?


Sorenson has peppered her characters' dialogue with a liberal use of pidgin—a sort of local slang dialect—giving the book an authentic Hawaiian feel. Adding to its authenticity is a very astute description of how native Hawaiians feel about their island home and the spirit of aloha. At an easy to read 81 pages of actual text, this book makes a great summer reading choice for middle graders. My own 5th grader has been enticed by the danger and intrigue the story-line promises and is excited to start it. As a parent, I appreciate that this book offers young readers that edgy danger factor, without also including the bad language and poor role models that often inhabit tween literature and love that this book appeals to boys. (Newport Beach Independent Review)

Sorenson does a good job of taking a somewhat unlikable main character at the book's beginning and show growth and a change to his initial prejudices of people and situations. There are also good lessons in the story on the importance of teamwork and not judging people based on looks or preliminary perceptions.I could see this being a fun and exciting read for tween age boys, so long as they understand that Uncle Tom's perceptions are more or less the wrong ones and that they should not go out and seek to stop dangerous criminal behavior–whether real or imagined. (Hawaii Book Blog)

Adventure-seeking tweens ages 9-14 will enjoy the e-book, Island Danger. When Todd, a 14-year-old soccer player in Hawaii, learns that militant activists have hidden weapons in the ravine to use for a rebellion against the U.S. government, he creates a plan to find them and gain his family's respect. But not everything's as it seems. (Pasadena Star News)

Island Danger
Kimo and the Secret Waves
Perfection Learning, 1996
ISBN 978-0780755192
Ages 7-14

During his summer in Hawaii, Kimo repeatedly visits a secret and forbidden beach, ignoring several frightening warning signs. Who is threatening him and why?

Endorsed by the Hawaii State Library. In legal and social compliance with the State of CA Dept of Education.

Surf's Up!

Kimo and the Secret Waves
Buy this book from
Perfection Learning.
Who Stole the Bases?
Perfection Learning, 1996
ISBN 978-0780755277 (library binding)
978-0-7891-0225-6 (paperback)
Ages 7-14

When the Little League Dodgers baseball team discovers that their bases are missing, some of the team members suspect their arch-rival team, the Pirates. How can they find the culprits and get revenge?

In legal and social compliance with the State of CA Dept of Education.

Time Trap
Buy this book from
Perfection Learning.
Copyright 2002-, Margo Sorenson. All information presented on these pages is the intellectual property of Margo Sorenson. Book excerpts are copyrighted by the publisher. Information and excerpts may not be used in any form—written, verbal, or electronically—without the permission of Margo Sorenson or her publishers. If you would like to quote any portion of the website, please contact the author or the publisher by using links provided on this site to request permission.
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