I’ve had a low key goal of eventually reading all of the Newbery award winners for a long, long time. It’s not something I’ve actively pursued, but it’s definitely been something that’s in the back of my head as something I’d like to do, you know eventually. Well an old friend started a facebook book club because she wanted to read all the books on one of those lists of 100 books everyone should read and then have the Newbery award winners as an alternate book. The LAST thing I need is another book club, but why not? So I agreed to join and then the main pick for August was Flowers for Algernon. Guys, I’m not sure I can put into words how very much I do not want to ever read that book. However, the alternative was Dicey’s Song and that was enough to kick start that goal into actual action.
This book is the second book in a series, but I haven’t read the first book so I think it works well as a standalone novel. It’s a heartbreaking novel about letting go and holding on and reaching out and how to know when to do each of those things. I honestly cried when I finished, it’s just so lovely. Dicey is a young woman burdened with the responsibility of her three younger siblings because their mother had a nervous breakdown. She has managed to guide her family from Boston to their grandmother in southern Maryland by the end of the first book, and now their small family needs to start on the repairs from a split that happened long before Dicey was born.
While some of the things in the book are outdated, simply because it’s set in the same era it was written in the early 1980s, I do think the themes of the book hold true. Dicey’s anger at being stuck with Home Economics instead of the ‘boy’ class of Drafting was relatable, even though I was annoyed at her dismissal of those skills as ‘ugh ladies stuff’. Especially because the use of those skills is all around her as her grandmother deals with having four brand new grandchildren living with her. So the showdown between the frustrated teacher and Dicey, when the teacher gets so fed up with Dicey’s lack of effort in her class was even more relatable.
I can see why this book won the Newbery award and I think it’s a great start to my adventure. Highly recommend this one.