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Dovey Coe

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About the Author

Frances O'Roark Dowell is the bestselling and critically acclaimed author of Dovey Coe, which won the Edgar Award and the William Allen White Award; Where I'd Like to Be; The Secret Language of Girls and its sequels The Kind of Friends We Used to Be and The Sound of Your Voice, Only Really Far Away; Chicken Boy; Shooting the Moon, which was awarded the Christopher Medal; the Phineas L. MacGuire series; Falling In; the critically acclaimed The Second Life of Abigail Walker; Anybody Shining; Ten Miles Past Normal; Trouble the Water; and most recently the Sam the Man series. She lives with her family in Durham, North Carolina. Connect with Frances online at FrancesDowell.com.


This novel set in the 1920s uses lyrical first-person narrative to convey the fierce pride and family loyalty of a plucky mountain girl. Twelve-year-old Dovey Coe is determined to "lay the record straight" about the death of her sister's suitor, the wealthy Parnell Caraway, whom the townsfolk believe Dovey murdered. After declaring her innocence, Dovey describes the chain of events leading up to the tragedy. In doing so, she offers a vivid and amusingly one-sided portrait of each character involved in the drama: rich, snobbish Parnell, who courts Caroline, Dovey's flirtatious, strong-willed sister; and Dovey's austere parents, who resolutely stand by their younger daughter when the whole town turns against her. Most touching of all is Dovey's relationship with Amos, her deaf brother, who "some folks [think is] stupid... though it was a far sight from the truth." The first two-thirds of the story (tracing the ill-fated romance between Parnell and Caroline) unfolds with the leisurely pace of a carefree summer's day, but some readers may find the end of the book, recounting Dovey's courtroom experience with an inexperienced defense lawyer, too rushed. Despite the book's pat resolution, first-time novelist Dowell succeeds in capturing the essence of a young and unforgettable independent thinker, who uses honesty and common sense as her weapons against injustice. This is an author well worth watching. Ages 8-12. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

Gr 4-7-It is 1928 and 12-year-old Dovey Coe is happy with her life in Indian Creek, NC. Her family has been in the mountains "since the beginning of time." They own their land and are one of the few families who are not beholden to wealthy Homer Caraway. Dovey guards her siblings closely. She taught her deaf older brother how to read books and lips, and worries about her older sister, Caroline, who seems to have forgotten her plans to go to teacher's college after uppity Parnell Caraway (Dovey's least favorite person) starts calling on her. How protective a little sister she actually is, remains to be seen-she tells readers in the first paragraph that she is being tried for Parnell's murder, then proceeds to recount what happened. The story maintains a very fast pace, and Dovey is an original character who speaks with a mountain twang that brings the vivid setting to life without distracting from the plot. The background and characters are carefully developed and appealing. Dovey's adventures will appeal to fans of Avi's The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (Orchard, 1990), while the mystery follows conventions of the genre and is explained in an entirely satisfactory manner.-Betsy Fraser, Calgary Public Library, Canada Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

* "Dovey is an original character who speaks with a mountain twang that brings the vivid setting to life." "This fabulously feisty heroine will win your heart." "A delightful book, thoughtful and full of substance." "Bears positive messages about family pride, self-reliance, and inner beauty. Dovey's strength of character alone is well worth the reader for young middle school girls. A worthy addition to any middle school collection."

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