Friday, May 4, 2012


Kate Klise
Feiwel & Friends, 2010
$16.99, Hardcover
March 28th, 2012

Genre: Realistic
Age: 9+
Description: “I’m alive today because I was grounded,” begins this novel about Daralynn Oakland, a young girl whose father, younger sister, and older brother just died in a plane crash that she wasn’t on because her mother grounded her for going out to fish in a pond without her father. Now she’s left with an angry mother who fluctuates between either being too overprotective of her or forgetting she actually has a living daughter and a grandmother who is slowly losing her mind to dementia. She’s also gained a new nickname she can’t stand—“Dolly” because everyone assumed, being a girl, she must like dolls so as condolences Daralynn received nearly 250 dolls from neighbors and complete strangers. She’d much rather be out fishing on Doc Lake than stuck at home playing with dolls. Her mother starts to get a little better when she is offered the job as a hair stylist at the local funeral home but her new job is threatened by the arrival of Clem and his new fangled crematorium. When Dolly comes up with the idea of holding “living funerals” in which people can celebrate their lives with the ones they love, Clem steals the idea and an all out war begins between the two funeral homes—a war in which Dolly is stuck right in the middle as her mother’s job is on the line while Dolly’s Aunt Josie, whom Dolly really loves, is planning to marry Clem. Concerned over Josie’s fools’ rush in romance and the fact that Clem is going to move them to Chicago leaving Dolly alone with her mother and grandmother, Dolly begins to investigate Clem as he has always made her nervous. However, she might get more than she bargained for when fishing on Doc Lake one afternoon she pulls up something that appears to be part of a furry animal but the more and more Dolly thinks about it she begins to realize the odd catch really looks like a toupee one of the recently deceased and cremated men used to wear. Dolly just might be the only person who can save her mother, Josie, and the whole town from a swindling con artist. 
Opinion: After reading the disappointing Melonhead this was a breath of fresh air. This book is that good! I have loved Kate Klise’s other books (the Regarding the . . . and Cemetery Road series) which were very mixed media types of stories—incorporating letters, photos, etc.—to tell the story so I wasn’t sure what to expect from a real full length novel. It is fast paced and features short chapters. It is clearly set in the South and in the recent past (while never clearly defined it had to be around the time that crematoriums first started to pop up in the United States with regularity). What starts out as a realistic story about a grieving family and life after death quickly turns into an all out action-packed potential murder mystery as Dolly sets out to save the town from the shady Clem. There were many twists and turns that had you evaluating everything you knew. In the end, Dolly becomes Daralynn again, she gets her mother and Josie back, and she begins to live life “after the accident”.

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