“A Year Down Yonder” – Can the Tall Tales Get Any Bigger?

Book Review : A Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck

Spoiler Alert!

Mary Alice is being sent down from Chicago to spend the year with Grandma because her dad has lost his job The new place was only big enough for two people and Joey was off working in the Civilian Conservation Corps. Mary Alice is not welcome at the school, but living with Grandma has taught her to have a backbone and she learns to keep her own business private. Grandma is up to her old tricks doling out justice for those in need and finding a laugh.

Adult Point of View

The previous novel was similar to a collection of short stories while A Year Down Yonder has a continuous flow from season to season because it all takes place in one year. Already the antics of Grandma start to flow together from one book to the next. I really enjoyed the outrageous pranks and attitude of Grandma when faced with difficult people. I did feel that the voice of Joey in the first book and Mary Alice in the second were too similar.

When the teenage boys decide to tamper with Grandma’s privy they are in for a big surprise. She sets up an elaborate trap including trip wire, flour and glue. Needless to say, Grandma is the uncontested winner and one of the revelers ends up with his best knife missing and no hair after tangling with this old lady.

Mary Alice notices that she is becoming more like Grandma. She cooks like her, holds her own business private and is a bit conniving. She writes a few articles from “Newsy Notes from Our Communities” in the local paper to sway the community into doing what she wants. In particular her scheme with the Valentines for Ina-Rae to put Carleen Lovejoy in a snit was ingenious. Preening girls like Carleen deserve a bit of a put down from fate upon occasion (in this case fate was helped along).

The final bit of the book again shows the great love that Grandma has for her grandchildren and they for her. Mary Alice must return to her parents but, she knows that there is always room at Grandma’s for her and she didn’t want to be married any other place. Don’t we all hope for a love that moves beyond explanations? That is constant and true? A Year Down Yonder is heartwarming and humorous at the same time, in fact, a bit like real life.

I highly recommend this little series. The adults will probably love it even more than the children.

4 out of 5 stars

– Michelle

About Tales Untangled

I am a mother of four children and have a passion for reading. I love sharing my treasury of books with my kids. I also do experiments in cooking which includes such things as Indian Tandoori Chicken slow-cooked in a tagine. I write stories and illustrate in ink.
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