Frances O’Roark Dowell (Young Adult Fiction)
“My name is Dovey Coe, and I reckon it don’t matter if you like me or not. I’m here to lay the record straight to let you know them folks saying I done a terrible thing are liars. I aim to prove it too. I hated Parnell Caraway as much as the next person, but I didn’t kill him.”
The youngest of the three Coe children, twelve-year-old Dovey would just as soon carry around a pocketknife than a pocketbook. She’s wasn’t a skilled tracker like her brother Amos and she certainly wasn’t pretty and charming like her sister Caroline, but Dovey was loyal and honest and had a mind of her own. You never had to guess what Dovey Coe was thinking because she would tell you exactly what was on her mind…whether you cared to hear it or not. As you can imagine, this resulted in a few awkward situations and quite a number of bruised egos. Such was the case with Parnell Caraway. Son to the richest family in town, Parnell always got whatever he set his eyes on and at the present moment, his eyes were set on Caroline Coe. No other girl in Indian Creek, NC deserved his arm more, but Caroline was set on going to college in Boone. Covey was certainly not going to let the likes of Parnell Caraway tear her family apart, but would she resort to murder to keep her family together?
I am an absolute and unashamed pushover for plucky and feisty heroines: Anne Shirley (Anne of Green Gables), Francie Nolan (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn), Matilda Wormwood (Matilda), and Fern Arable (Charlotte’s Web) to name a few. Dovey Coe handily earns a spot among these lovable, irrepressible, undaunted, and spirited young ladies. Whether she’s confronting a school bully or the son of the man who owns half the town, Dovey is righteous in her convictions and uncowering in the face of injustice, unfairness, or just plain meanness. No matter how few nickels she had to rub together, Dovey never considered herself or her family poor. Her life was simple and satisfying and when something got her down, it wasn’t anything that a slice of her MeMaw’s chocolate cake or hammering a few nails into a two by four wouldn’t make right again. Failure was not only not an option for Dovey, it simply wasn’t in her vocabulary.
Dovey Coe was shelved under the Young Adult section in my local library; however, the book is listed for ages nine to twelve and I highly recommend younger readers seizing the opportunity to meet Dovey and her entire family. Older readers may feel the writing style is a bit simplistic, but the lessons Frances O’Roark Dowell lays out for her readers are ageless. Loving who you are, standing up for what is right, defending the weakest among you, and finding joy in life’s smallest pleasures are things we should all aspire to do. I think Dovey summed it up best when she said, “The way I seen things, us Coes had everything we needed in this world. Some might see us as poor, but that was their problem.”
*Book cover image attributed to www.amazon.com
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