11 April 2014

A Year Down Yonder: 2001 Newbery Award Winner

The beginning of March 2014 I started a new undertaking: reading every single Newbery Medal Winner book. A number of them I have read in the past, but I am reading them with fresh eyes,and reviewing them for others. I am not reading them in order, as some will require some effort on my part to find them all.  Want to keep track of which books I read?  Check them out at Confessions of a Wannabe Reader!

A Year Down Yonder.jpg
Cover of the book - Used for illustration purposes only under the fair use clause

Sometimes I binge read and then remember to write up reviews on several books at once, or I write up reviews on sheets of paper and then have to find time to type them into the computer, so forgive the multiple posts today.

Mary Alice Dowdel: The City Gal

Mary Alice Dowdel used to spend just her summers at her grandmother's house in southern Illinois, but the year is 1937 and the Great Depression has hit her family hard.  Her parents are boarding in a single room, her brother is working out West, and the fifteen-year-old is sent to live with her grandmother for the entire year.  She is not happy with the prospect, as her grandmother lives in a very rural area that is very hick to the Chicago girl.  Her grandmother is tough as nails and very no nonsense, and Mary Alice dreads the prospect of living with her.  But that changes as Mary Alice gets to know her grandmother and warms up to some of the townsfolk.   She learns that maybe the year spent "down yonder" wasn't so bad.

I had read this story before and thoroughly enjoyed it when I read it.  A Year Down Yonder is the middle book of a trilogy by Richard Peck, who also wrote the book Strays Like Us (another book I really enjoyed reading).  It is the heartwarming tale of a teen who learns that her seemingly backwards grandmother isn't as backwards as she seems.  It is also a tale about coming home.  This book, which seems to be written for teenagers instead of children, is an awesome story of remembering a stage in childhood for a young woman.  Some of it reminded me of elements of the book Belle Prater's Boy, particularly the revealing of some of the townsfolk's secrets and the way that some of the hoity-toity elite of the town try to stay away from the country bumpkins.  It is a very good read.

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