2001: A Year Down Yonder (Grandmother Knows Best)

VERDICT: Treasure

Sally’s Rating: 4.5/5

A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck is a wonderful read, filled with quirky small town characters, fun adventures and just the right amount of sentimentality.

When the recession hits and money troubles begin for one family, a young girl from Chicago moves in with her crazy grandmother for a year – and must adapt to living in the rural countryside in the 1930’s. Mary Alice is a bit nervous at first because her grandmother is known for her crazy antics and mean streak, but when the year is up, she isn’t so sure she wants to go back to Chicago again.

Grandma Dowdel is without a doubt the highlight of the piece. You never know what you are going to get from her as Mary Alice is always waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it turns out that it’s better to have grandma as a friend rather than an enemy. The narrative focuses on how Mary Alice comes to appreciate her grandma’s quirky and awful behavior as the layers behind her motivations are slowly revealed.

While the book is very episodic, the adventures never feels repetitive. After all, life with grandma is never boring as she traps foxes, takes in random drifters that paint nudes, and teaches Mary Alice the various politics of making pies for society events. Grandma can easily smart everyone else in the town, and its entertaining to see Mary Alice become more and more like her grandmother as she begins to stir up trouble all on her own.

Recommended for everyone – both children and adults alike!

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