After her brother, sister, and father die in a plane crash, Daralynn Oakland receives 237 dolls from well-wishers, resulting in her new nickname: Dolly. And she doesn't even like dolls! Dolly would much rather go fishing-- not that she's allowed to go anywhere on her own after the accident. As she sees it, her whole life has turned terrible, and there's nothing she can do about it.
But when her angry, grieving mother's new job as a hairstylist at the local funeral home is threatened by the new crematorium, Dolly decides it's time to take action. She suggests throwing Living Funerals-- a chance to attend your own funeral and hear all the nice things people say while you're still alive to thank them.
Will Dolly's new plan heal her mother's broken hear and save a dying business?"
Why do I always choose books like this for my fifth graders to read? But this book wasn't totally sad. It's just that I realized that this book and the next book we're going to read (and that I'll review here when we've finished reading it) center around death and dying. But, they're grade level books and the fifth graders in my reading group have done quite well when we talk about grief and funerals, which you can't avoid when you read this book.
I think this is a neat exploration of grief. What makes it so neat is that there are two people who are in the same family going through grief, but because of their ages, they deal with these difficult feelings differently. The mother is angry towards others and she keeps busy with whatever she can. She shuts down and doesn't do a lot of the activities and chores that she used to do on a regular basis. She tries to keep her remaining child close by to keep her safe. And what else would you do if you lost two of your three children and your husband? The daughter, Daralynn (I hate calling her Dolly because she hates that name... I hate being called horrible nicknames, so I like to ask... or infer) has a different way of dealing with so much loss. She writes letters, particularly to her dad. She goes fishing at the lake like her dad used to do when he needed to think. Daralynn was closest to her father than she was to her brother and sister, it seems.
On a different note, I appreciated the crime aspect of the story. Sketchy Clem Monroe... in our group, we had a bad feeling about him right away. I thought that he was guilty of murder, but I was wrong... and actually, the fact that he is *SPOILER* guilty of conspiracy and taking money under false pretenses makes this story more exciting. It's a bit more devious than murder, if you want to start ranking crimes...
This was an enjoyable read even for an adult person. I'd like to find more work by Kate Klise sometime soon!
I give 'Grounded':