Author: Kate Klise
Publication: Feiwel & Friends (November 9, 2010)
Description: After her brother, sister, and father die in a plane crash, Daralynn Oakland receives 237 dolls from well-wishers, resulting in her nickname: Dolly. But dolls are little comfort to a twelve-year-old girl whose world is rocked by the dramatic changes in her life, including her angry, grieving mother’s new job as a hairstylist at the local funeral home.
Dolly gets a job, too, where she accidentally invents a fashionable new haircut. But her real work begins when a crematorium comes to town, and someone has to save a dying business, solve a burning mystery, and resuscitate the broken hearts in Digginsville, Missouri, population 402.
My Thoughts: This was a touching story about dealing with grief. Daralynne's voice was pitch perfect as she tells the story of the year after her father, older brother, and younger sister die in a plane crash. She talks about her relationship with the mother who substituted anger for sadness, her Aunt Josie who was more of a free spirit and eager to lead with her heart, her Uncle Waldo who is still trying to get over his service in Vietnam, her grandmother Memaw who went senile and childlike after the deaths, and the stranger who came to town and shook them all up. Mr. Clem comes to town to open a crematorium and court Aunt Josie.
Daralynne writes long letters to her father, brother and sister that document her investigation of Mr. Clem. The quirky characters and setting of this story and the fact that it takes place in the 1970s add interest. I think that more thoughtful middle graders would enjoy this book.
I might not have been Mother's favorite, but I wasn't in last place. That distinction was held by Aunt Josie, who'd been at the bottom of Mother's list for as long as I could remember.